Everyone falls asleep but me so I shrug into my worn Carhartt and the dog and I head out to see if the snow has started. We go slowly – for what could possibly pass for hurry in these days – east and a little south, into old fields that went unhayed this year. Where the earth slopes, slick with crackling ice, I gaze upwards into a black sky deep with blurry stars until, dizzy, I turn away and stumble on. Yet with each uncertain step, something internal blurs that is not so distant, not so removed, as if inside me there is something that longs to dissolve and only my fear of nothingness stops it.
So the world falls away – houses and family, chickens and cars, money and projects and people. All of it goes but my memory of you: clear and bright and true. That stays. And I remember then churches in which whole lifetimes passed on my knees, and dense scriptures that unraveled after decades of study, and volumes of poetry eaten by moths. So many stories! All so that I might end up here: alone in darkness near the old fire pond, listening for deer in the bracken, and searching in vain for the first flakes of snow.
So that which goes nameless comes off the far hill, crosses the tops of the whispery pine trees, and pauses beside me, deepening the already deep quiet of midnight in winter in New England. What can I say that it has not heard a thousand times a thousand times before? All I have learned is not to grasp for what is always given, nor to fall for the lie that it is given to me alone.
I stay with it as long as possible until – toes freezing, ears numb – I whistle for the dog and we turn back.
Was it always thus? What continues continues, and what abides beyond all continuance waits, neither irritable nor patient, for us to finally consent to arrive. Would it surprise you to learn that I sang a little going home? Songs of love, songs of praise, songs of the promise I made before time and space began? I did. My cracked voice rose and fell, rose and fell, until at last, very quietly, it began to snow.