Sunday, September 19, 2010

Salt for the Wound

If I had the time and inclination, I would be tempted to chart how my life and work are influenced by the seasons. While both do gradually change as I age, I also feel in myself recurring cycles and moods that are tied to the earth’s journey around the sun, the rising tides and waning moons, the subtle changes in atmosphere, temperature, and light. It isn’t just a case of writing autumn poems in autumn, at least not merely on the surface. The seasons, it seems, awaken different facets of my personality and areas in my brain. I remember different kinds of things at different times of year. I can feel a sense of joy or loss and longing at any time during the year, but the qualities of that feeling change with the seasons, and one of those qualities is quite physical — a matter of breath and pain and bones. To inhale the smoke of burning leaves is to inhale life itself and the treasure of memories it has stored. The touch of winter fog on my face and hands makes calm granite of my wishes. The fire in a cave is a fire in a room I have made with my own thoughts, which are just as apt to burn. Spring is mud time, when falling blossoms wake the dead. I am the seasons. I’ve known so since childhood, when I expressed it by jumping in the water, wagging my tail, and losing my leaves like every other living thing — and then, all at once, in the lucky experience of my death to meet and taste the soil, to have written on my brow the nameless loam where rivers used to run, and oceans, and ships, and sails, was born the childish man of words before you now, his palms open, a curse on his lips, salt for the wound that seeks his own. I can but weep, this time of year, through the bright-gray mask that has become my smile. The leaves, now beginning to change and fall, are like voices from graves I have to tend. I love them, love them all. And that is where it stands today, even as it breaks and changes, even as I laugh and dance and fail.

Recently Linked: inni in vani.

In the Forum: She was an anagramaton, holding a flower.


Ruth said...

This is so powerfully beautiful! Oh I feel so touched, and moved.

I suppose that is partly because I deeply relate to what you wrote here. At age 54, my feelings about the seasons have changed too, meaning also that the seasons themselves have changed, for me. We moved to our little farm a few years back, and I recognized quickly that the Universe scheduled the move. I needed the earth, though I didn't hear the call yet. When my friend's cancer appeared at the same time as this move, and we began a long-longed for spiritual journey (read earth-spirit-essence-spirit) together, I began to see what the land here, and all its inhabitants, meant to me. I realized that we were not caretakers of the land, but it and its creatures are caretakers of us. Being more aligned with this fact, and aware of it, the seasons' cycles have become incredibly meaningful. And I don't even mind (too much) that I use too much gas driving to and from work 30 minutes one way, as I get to see the farmers' partnership with Nature laid out in every season.

William Michaelian said...

Ruth, thanks so much for gracing this page with such an open, beautiful response. I took a similar journey with a friend when we were seventeen years old, a journey that ended in his death, but not in the death of our friendship. Autumn on his street was a painting of maples and sycamores, a light shining on his mother standing at the kitchen sink. Brushstrokes, really, as he, even at that age, was an accomplished artist working against time. And so our memories, which are living things, become one with the seasons, and are somehow illuminated by them.

I grew up on the farm, and had to leave it finally when I was thirty-one. Still, no day goes by when I don’t think of it. And now, when I drive through the country not far from where we live, I feel a deep kinship with the surroundings, the men and women working in the fields.

Jean Spitzer said...


William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Jean.

Anthony Duce said...

As I read your words today I thought how connected you and I assume many others are to the world and how it’s been this way for a long time. I feel my ties are more irregular. I could relate to what you say but only if I remember certain periods in my life. There are periods when I didn’t know what season I was in at all. It’s not been the same, on a steady keel. I do love the connections you have made here and the comparisons. They have me thinking about the connections I have, and sometimes haven’t had, to the season too.

vazambam said...


You are truly "A Man for All Seasons"-- thanks for this splendid autumn equinox offering.

William Michaelian said...

Anthony, thanks. I think we have the connections whether we’re aware of them or not. Sometimes, out of necessity or habit, we’re too preoccupied to notice. And I think our bodies, if we haven’t totally defeated them or driven them to despair, always know what season it is. We are, after all, made up of the same stuff that’s around us. Anyway. More thoughts.

Vassilis, thank you too. And if you’re ever looking for a fall guy, I’m your man.

giadep said...

sea son(s) -


greetings at the same hour.


William Michaelian said...

Greetings. I will set my clock to Giampaolo time.

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

I also, reading your words, have recongnize lot of my self, this post is so beautifull William, I liked it
thank you

Otter7 said...

Wonderful post. I, too, fee myself part of the rhythm, expanding and contracting with the cosmic breath, the tilt and roll of the seasons. As a Native woman, my family life revolved around the shifting seasons, moving from one activity to the next, according to which food was available and whether or not it was time to hunt or fish. I chose to be married on the autumnal equinox, because I wanted that solid compression of energy to translate to our union. Thank you for a wonderful, moving post from a clearly gifted writer.

Two Tigers said...

These are beautiful sentiments expressed beautifully, William. It's good to know there are still others out there who feel the seasons from their deepest animal nature, using their senses as we were meant to, to gather information about the natural world around us and respond instead of being so wrapped up in our own thoughts we feel the world is a projection and servant of our needs. I completely understand your being so attuned with the seasons! This is as it should be.

William Michaelian said...

I’m glad, Laura. Thank you.

Otter7, I love that you chose such a date to be married — a time not of convenience, but of awareness.

Gabriella, you’re quite right — as long as we operate under the idea that “the world is a projection and servant of our needs,” we will be at odds with ourselves. Thanks for your kinds words.

giadep said...

i'm glad
for our clock!



Woman in a Window said...

And so my question to Laura of why we are all so astoundingly touched in similar ways by seasons is answered, we are of the earth, after all, just life extensions of it, flares of the sun.

What came of me most honestly, William, as I read this, was an utter feeling of love and appreciation of you and your writing. How lucky we are to read you.


William Michaelian said...

Erin, it’s all so fleeting. I can be standing at the sink and eating a peach, or going out to get the mail, and I’m struck anew by the knowledge that I might not live to finish the act. And yet I can imagine myself much older, still enjoying the same things, the juice running down my arm, the rust on the mailbox, my pained arthritic fingers tapping out messages on the keyboard.

I so deeply value our exchange. To be read by anyone is a miracle. To be read by you, though, and others who follow along and write and share and who even, for whatever reason, choose to remain silent, has a profound effect on my daily life and outlook.

So the luck runs both ways. And even if all we say and do and write is someday expunged from the record, if the slate is wiped clean and no one knows we were here, what we have now can’t be diminished. It will become mulch, like autumn leaves.

Alberto Oliver said...

Powerfull William,,powerfull indeed. But wish to thank you as well because you have given words and voice to a feeling that has been lying there within me for ages,,without the chance to be properly expressed, now such inner emotion feels satisfied, with a lovely expression like that of a dumb face that has been finally understood on its desperated gestures. We are the seasons and the air, and the elements, we are the time and the ages.

How lucky to read you,,as somebody said above,,moreover, since you are able to break the silence of my absentminded spirit, on his neverending search for a sign.

Regards my friend,,my poet friend. =)

William Michaelian said...

And regards to you, my friend in photography, painting, and light. I feel you do express these things on your blog, but of course it’s natural to feel restless. And as long as we’re alive, the world presents new images and feelings and changes, which settle on us in layers. What a pleasure it is to sort through them all.