Chanting in community the other night I broke frequently into smiles, mostly at the secret language of musicians, yet when my eyes were closed saw clearly only the roads and trails I walk daily, most often in the blue light when night is over but the sun has not yet breached the horizon.
The many names of God . . . I wrote a poem about this years ago, sitting near a pine tree on Cape Cod, thinking how beautiful the little beach plums were, sorting as always through the fall into love. Remembered it last night – held it as one might a light – walking after dinner up Sam Hill Road at sunset.
We stopped to admire leggy buttercups and dandelions bright in the dusky grass, the congregational bluets, which I named “mother’s anger” years ago, and the pale forget-me-nots, which I never do. A rose-breasted grosbeak (calling Kenneth Rexroth to mind, surfacing hours later in bed) singing atop a crabapple tree while the tiny brook chimed beneath him. F. pointed out the moon, chalky and pale, above the jagged line of white pine and maple.
We counted concentric rings on tree stumps in the cemetery, calculating the age of children who died in the eighteenth century, and I showed the kids the graves I dug, or helped dig, years ago. Crickets hummed in the tall grass, abruptly silent when we knelt to see them. We looked for deer in Ted Porter’s field, and saw nothing but a few crows veering west, their raspy cries like taunts in our ears.
Those slow quiet walks are a joy to me – I am lifted, truly – taking note of the world which resides just outside us, which appears to remain reachable. And yet, having taken up residence now in the School at the Branching of the Road – and dropping the poem at last near a clump of wild rhubarb, hidden near the road – I wondered if it is not the names themselves that we must undo, and if the sadness I feel in saying that is merely a precursor to the real world beginning.