Dimly Aware Of The Ocean

In late May early June, Worthington – the part of it I know by foot anyway – becomes a constellation of flowers, a prismatic heavens that I forget is temporary. Temporal? And what if I am wrong? The Quaker’s Ladies beneath the side yard white pine, the Forget-Me-Nots across from Ted Porter’s house, the “pale wild Morning Glories” in the field where at dusk deer browse, like narratives awaiting the right – the quiet, the sure – intelligence.

And a few nights earlier I saw the year’s first firefly – all too aware of the darkness it was up against. Last night I had the rare experience of remembering falling to sleep as a little boy, and my all-to-real awareness of both God and the Devil, both straddling the pin’s head upon which I struggled mightily to keep some sort of balance. When I closed my eyes, I could still see the room, and also – if I tried hard – the roof of the house, gray in the fading moonlight. We follow the course of miracles and it leads us . . . where?

The dogs woke up at 3 a.m. or so – I could not sleep, but C. was awakened by their low growls and groused for a moment before rolling over – and slowly you could hear the other dogs in the neighborhood pick up the cry. Our dogs settled, then B.’s howled, then J.’s a quarter mile away. Bear, I figured, as I could almost see one lumbering slowly through the yards in search of early peas or unprotected garbage. Two hundred years ago I might have guessed it was Old Scratch himself come calling, his scuffed black boots pushing the dust ahead of him, and wondered if when I woke my children would still be alive.

Bear, devil . . . and this began with the flowers! When I close my eyes these days in prayer I see a hill upon which I expected to find a cross and instead find nothing but a tall thin grass that barely covers a sandy knoll. Around me in all directions merely more field. I am dimly aware of the ocean to the North, and of bright gems in the nearby stones, though it is not for lucre that I came so far. It was A. who first delivered this vision to me, three years ago in Northampton, and also the Mother Bear who wanted me to simply let her quietly eat the windfall apples without having to serve yet another human spiritual whimsy.

Oh and Violets too, like shreds of purple lace hidden in the tall grass by the road. All night I whispered in the cool darkness, sometimes perched on a zafu, sometimes pacing in the kitchen with a glass of water. Nothing came or answered – nothing ever does, or has – and yet I awoke much later than the sun, feeling oddly comforted, as if some deliverance had taken place and only in time will I allow myself to take heed of it.

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