Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

mixing and plotting and…things

The new year moves nicely. I have more energy, I read more (I'd like to think the two are connected. As I read more, I have more energy) and I am, of course, much happier.

The old themes are coming out again. Land. The Potawatomi. Living. I read “Q Road” by Bonnie Jo Campbell a few weeks back. I remember telling Jeff about it and he made a comment about the characters being “dysfunctional”. That took me back. Obviously what I just related about these characters was messed up but I never saw it in that way.
How can an author speak of horrible things but in such a way that grace bursts from the pages? A mother shoots a molester, her daughter buries him in a barn (did he molest the daughter? did she want to be molested? the book asks). This is a bright and brittle thing. There is no way to get around it. And yet…instead of me turning away tired and discontent, I grew thoughtful and kept reading. Kept deeply reading. But why? How did she keep me reading instead of growing tired?

I know that Campbell wanted her characters to be more than just characters but archetypes. They are still fully human. I can't say she succeeded with making them archetyes- but she has begun to know. At times, she overdrew them but I could forgive her because…because? she wrote beautifully and she was trying to write truthfully. Not truthfully where everything is beautiful or everything is ugly. Not truthfully where we talk about some things and then not others. But truthfully. This writer has a big heart and I think if she continues, she will become one of the best (and probably least known) writers of our generation.

The struggle of suburbia has always been on my mind. It hurts to see fields turned into layouts for track housing. I know people need a place to live but must there be so much greed? So much goneness? In town, it's easier. There's no ripped up fields, no weird mounds where they rip the topsoil up and then just layer it up before it gets carted away. No compressions in the earth left. No flat sinking table for pre-fab houses and their owners. “Q Road” ponders this. and it ponders that. What is the solution to this tearing? It gives none. And yet…underneath…there is some answer. Rachel (the main character- it's really her book. she is the land in a zillion ways) is growing up and will grow up. That is something within itself, something I don't really understand yet. To grow up. To let go. and yet not to let go. Ever. It's hard to say. This is a writer to watch. I'm fascinated to see how she views these problems in her further books.

on the other hand, Jeff is spiffy! and everyone in my life needs to meet him. I realize this means treking around and I'm determined it will happen! I believe in a very short time, this blog will receive some big news.

More till later
-Cat

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The Willows Converse Among Themselves

I look across the river and catch sight of the willows, lost in their own world. They have no regard for me. They are speaking to each other in whispers so I hear nothing clearly but I see their long golden-yellow chains wavering over the water. It reflects their light.

There are presences in this world that are not human but sometimes, a human being comes across one of these presences and this is when poetry happens—when we interact with the strange divinity that moves through the world.

I caught sight of the willows and so complete were they within themselves, so beautiful to behold, that my mind stopped dead in its tracks and my heart eased. In the presence of an Other, human commotion becomes impossibly silly and pointless. The past and future converge into the present and there is only now.

I exhale the stress I’ve held this morning as I watch them. The willows, their long hair hanging over their faces, disregard me totally and completely and talk in their slow tree way, something to do with the air, water, and earth. I cannot hear much but what I do hear makes me recall there were other beings on this earth other than myself, older than myself. They exist in this time, in many times, living, dying, always reappearing. The willows hang their hair over the water as they have done for centuries, listening to the currents and moving with the breezes and eddies of the wind.

With a gratefully diminished self, I thank the universe for the ancient poetry that is the willow tree and move forward, reborn, into the bright day.

 

茶の煙柳と共にそよぐ也

the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling

Issa

(Trans. David G. Lanoue)

Beautiful Dirty Summer

The thick green groves of cup-plants (silphium perfoliatumare) stand eight feet tall and are in their late summer glory. I look up at their bright yellow ray flowers and shield my eyes, the bright flowers sway so high and run so close to the sun. When I squint, the flowers darken into forms without color like the outline of the sun beating through closed eyelids.

I take a step nearer and peer into the leaves. Tiny pools of still water collect where the thick cup leaves meet the stems. It has not rained in the last few weeks and I’m surprised there is any water here at all. For leaves that are not broken or rotted, thimblefuls of water weigh without movement, rimmed with the detritus of summer: a fly’s wing, a wad of spider web, bits of dead grass and portions of pollen.

These tiny pools are water for goldfinches, tiny birds that flash by like rays of light. It hasn’t rained for weeks and this is left, tiny pools of water full of dirty summer. I consider drinking it. With one quick gulp, I’d drink the essence of a passing summer, imbibe what August means, and taste the bitter part of the growing season. This is living but rotting part that underlines all our lives but that no one likes to see, much less taste.

I shift my weight from foot to foot. The sun beats heavily down. The yellow flowers tumble in overhead breezes and the goldfinches live nearby, finding water where they can as the dry weeks pass. My hands drop to my sides and I pass back through the grass, ready for the shade. Perhaps when it rains and all the cup plants are full, I’ll take my drink along with the many others.