I waited in the early morning darkness
Breath billowing out in long streams
Finger tips wrapped tight in fisted hands
Dug deep in pockets
The shift in light was so subtle
Suddenly I could see the higher branches
Two crows peered at me as though I intruded
Naked feathers, naked sight
Then it licked the tops in fire and light
My heart beat faster than the shutter
The moment was brief to catch with camera
Yet as quickly as I began, my hand was stayed
Sunrise is a communion I often forget
A flicker of awakening to the earth and the mind
In activity I am artist but a bit asleep
In stillness I awaken as part of the art.
Cold and blustery, with dark clouds drifting down the Colorado hog backs in misty waterfalls is my day. With little resistance, my mind turns back to summer and the warm ocean breezes of July. Seashells and plastic pales full of crabs and snails and minnows whipping my ankles. Makeshift moats around lopsided sand castles built for love, not defense. I remember that hours of heat had left us all lazy, but for the surf and boogie boards with the kids. My father was not here, as he passed last year, but I am certain he would’ve liked to see us all together. Surely summer, more than any other season, moves with the speed of seagulls dashing for french fries on the wharf. I’d give anything to push my toes into that sand, rather than wrap this blanket about my shoulders. I suspect soon I will long for fall leaves as I put on my snow boots, scarf and hat. Ah, se la vie. Contentment, I guess, is as fickle as summer kites.
Passing through the loading areas of train yards is a bit like passing through a graveyard. Stories that once were, now wrappers blowing between empty coal cars. I wonder who comes to work in these lonely spots? Who sponges the graffiti and loads the tankers? Nothing moves upon the gaveled lots and so much seems left in shadow.
We all travel in circles of others. People who are connected to us by locale, family, religion, and work. When I look out the window of the train I see many lives I have no association with. Hands covered in train grease and punch clocks that mark their hours. A hundred years ago we lived in towns where we knew everyone and what most people did. I look out at these yards of old train cars and filling stations and wonder are there really ghosts moving between the rails? Is there nothing in the shadows or do I simply lack the eyes to see?
The sunset rolled in on long lines and parallel shafts of deepening orange. The clicking of the rails, with the steady rocking, left my limbs heavy in the seat. Tracters were rolling toward the barns outside my window and the swallows had taken up vigil on telephone lines. At day’s end even the birds know it is best to simply sit and witness.
I attended my cousin Brent’s wedding in Chicago. This was the flower girl. I never got her name. She danced and twirled loving the feel of her dress and the power of her boots. When you are five everything goes together, because it’s never about the appearance, as how good you feel when you see yourself in it. So if you feel good about the dress and you feel good about the boots, well then, they must go together.
Boys, I’m sure, have their own thing, but for little girls it’s all about the dress. When I was her age I had a chocolate brown satin and velvet dress for special occasions. I wore it with black, patten leather Mary Janes. The skirt twirled deliciously when I spun. I’d stand in my parent’s bedroom where there was a full length mirror and dance and pose at myself. I wonder sometimes how it is we lose pleasure in our own beauty. As children it comes so naturally, but then as we age, we seem to forget. Maybe it’s the dress. Lose the swirling skirt and you lose your way. You lose the ability to be carefree and dance about for no other reason than it just feels good.
I watched her for sometime. It’s hard to turn away from that sort of magic.
Worlds great and small rise and decay along the tracks. Underbellies of mediocre villages and hard edges of factories share the same trail. Worn and haggard becomes beautiful, in a countryside of weathered barns, while never enticing anyone closer. Haunting are silos abandoned while compelling to even the dullest mind to look more closely.
Heather and golden rod litter the edges of hundreds of fields, rich in the green of cornstalks and soy. Yellow are the elder stalks from earlier harvests ready for the straw-men of autumn, while bales for the harvested fields already line the lanes. The clacking of the train cars shifts as the train makes its turn heading north past the width of the Great Mississippi. Muddy spillage pours from drains as the floods of summer still fill its low banks. Barges and small crafts pass beneath the train bridge on their way to the deltas of Louisiana.
Ancient seems this story of fields and metal, floods and drought. Harvests come in that stave off the bankers and pays for the baler before summer’s out. Corn packs the pickups and soy to the moored barges to the south. An endless cycle of life and movement from field to mouth.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” Marcus Aurelius
“What I am actually saying is that we need to be willing to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly.” Shakti Gawain