Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Home from travels.

It's been, as the kids say, a minute. Well, I lived my life, I did what I did, and now I'm sleeping in my own bed again--sleeping well, it must be said, which, at this late date in my life, is not nothing, I tell you, in fact sometimes it feels like everything.

We got home from Scotland, dazed from everything we'd experienced.

"Remember when we went to Ireland, then England, then Scotland? Remember when we were gone for weeks and weeks?" I say to the historian. He does remember. We remember everything.

We've seen my folks again, several times. I've gone to Pilates and the gym and to HIGH Fitness. We've eaten enchiladas. We've seen a few movies. I've been back to my writing group. I've written and delivered a poem at Convocation. I've had breakfast and lunch and coffee with my friends.

When we planned this trip, I wanted to be gone long enough, gone thoroughly enough, to feel like I was not on a vacation, rather living my life in other places. And I did feel that. I felt at home in the world. Of course it was still in a sense a vacation--a leaving of one's ordinary life to experience extraordinary things. This trip delivered that, and in spades. But what I really cherish is a feeling that I could do--could be--anywhere, and live my life.

I'm back now. And I want to see if I can sustain at least that dimension of our epic travels. We'll see.

During this sabbatical, when I am writing and also undertaking a substantial project that I'll talk, I'm sure, more about later, I want to use this blog as a space to keep a record, to talk about what's happening. It will be another space to be, to do, to live my life.

The future

Imagine a shore, says the clairvoyant, when I ask
about the future. Imagine a river emptying itself 
into the sea. It’s dusk, she goes on, but light enough 
that you can see the river moving out, its direction sure. 

I can see it, in fact I’ve been there recently. Overhead,
terns wheel and cry. Walk downshore, where the sea
moves in, the salt giving it greater weight. The slap
and churn, cold and immediate, of this meeting

of waters is an inevitability. I watch the sun fall, 
its theater of blaze. I’ve come to her to ask 
about the future and its brightness, by what measure 
we might predict or calibrate it. I’ve come to believe 

that everything depends on this, so when she replies, 
Imagine you’re at altitude, flying across an ocean from 
one continent to another, I’m impatient, but I do it,
depart the shore, see myself in a metal capsule, 

at a window that frames nothing but sky upon 
more sky, and in my mind, we’re in it and of it 
and above it, somehow, and also drowning in it, 
perhaps swimming to a far-off shore—l even hear 

the voice of the cabin attendant intoning in 
the unlikely event of an emergency landing, and outside 
the imagined window, the firmament dissolves
into blue mist, diffracted light, a structure made 

for holding nothing but its own airy figment:
I look again, and the clouds fissure into a sheet 
of ice, floes adrift, more and more water. I want
to believe in a better ending, to believe that we tilt

toward hope. I fret in the near-silent alcove
where this oracular stranger tells me, in figures,
what can be made of this moment, this now,
deposited like river matter, the dregs of the past.

The coins to pay her clink in my pocket. I should not 
have asked about the world, or the future, at least 
not directly. I should have asked her, is there form 
or efficacy, or beauty, still to be made in this world? 

Even though I already know the answer: yes and no, 
the sea roars in salt and the river meets it, its sediments
suspended and dazzling. A plane flies miles above 
earth, combustible device, and in so doing plunders 

the air. The wreck of an old fishing boat, there, 
in the mud, is the past, falling apart now and for years
to come. The inexorable silt the river carries makes 
and undoes this estuary. When the harbor seal bobs up 

to inspect me, that’s the now and also the future: 
we are momentary peers, investigating one another, 
as I disturb his habitat. When I paint the future, 
it is luminous but with a wash of gray, 

and when I spell out its sentence, it is an anagram 
for insurmountable. That’s not quite right: 
the anagram is made of reckoning. I say 
to the clairvoyant, The world is on fire, which is not 

a question, and she replies, but the world 
has always burned. This answers nothing, though I know 
it is a kind of truth, yet devoid of the particulars 
that lend a divination its requisite weight. 

The world is burning now, I say. She doesn’t need 
to repeat it: it has always burned, but at least I know
this blaze has history, and that I must learn it.
From that shore I might pick up two stones: one 

for ballast, and one to remind me of the past, 
already here, as I go forward, and that, 
in a burning world, we’d better be prepared 
to carry water.


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