Weighted down with blossoms—
What braked in the desert, that "element of imprudence," now turns to disaster from an organized distance. Have we forgotten that it is exactly this social mobility, this lack of compartments and distinctions, that gives the street its danger and its magic, the danger and magic of water in which the balm of redemption is found in eyes red from the rub of someone else's pain? Last night I dreamed that I jumped up and balanced on the edge on a precipice.
At a crossroads with no signs, I would have been be lost if I hadn't once approached it from another direction. Further along, a tree grows out of itself. Danae's perfume drifts toward me again. Casting its threads wide to capture a closer look, a spider creates another work of art. It can't be helped.
The seam between inside and outside is seamless.
Into an overcast morning Mount St. Helens disappears, smoke and all. When this happens, it's a signal that the Mountain God is journeying again. In springtime the path is almost overgrown, glimpsed as an old Indian trail to a nonexistent camp, now a house on private land. Walking deeper into the woods, like the desert and the city, the forest, in which the fearful signs swarm, doubtless articulates the non-place and the wandering, the absence of prescribed routes, the solitary arising of an unseen root, beyond the reach of the sun. Toward a hidden sky. But the forest, outside the rigidity of its lines, is also trees clasped by terrified letters.The wood wounded by poetic incision, trees are clinging to wafts of mist, amorphous patterns that evaporate as a runner disappears over a bridge.
If a fetus is a potential human being, so is this mushroom's pulpy brain. Everything living is potentially human!
a cave," a bundle of scrolls is discovered. Even as
they are being read, they vanish, in fire or wind,
Emerging from the Dark Ages, science wrestled itself free from religion. God became a paradigm, theory subsumed faith. Not paying attention while crossing the tracks, I jackknifed over a cable fence the color of the leaden sky. Ribs bruised, shins raised a welt, palms scoured, blood soaked through; the foot and ankle were modified, though our aching feet signify something more than the rigors of pavement life; they are like a number of other lagging organs—incompletely adapted. Yet, a short walk on one's hands will demonstrate where was I going that was so important?
Leaving the drizzle, cars whoosh through a tunnel. I walk around the hump of engineered ground thick with fronds and underbrush to where the cars emerge into the rain again, and cross the road. A steep path is a shortcut to a once tall tree, felled and split open. When all the world has been clear-cut, on what will you print your sacred books? Words will fly out of your ears, lightning will course down your spine, rooting you to the ground. The earth will replemish its forests with petrified human beings.
Waiting on the steps for the library to open, I overheard: "Even though he wrote horror stories, he still had an extraordinary imagination." Everyone laughed.
I prefer gloomy days, when shadows are afoot. I can hear them talking around the switchbacks, puffing out words with bellows of carbon dioxide. A sword fern giggles in its satiric way. A slug sagaciously turns its head. In China, roughly between 500-700 CE, on misty mountain paths, in temples and in caves, monks, recluses, mendicants, like the Master of Animals, or the Green Man, became indigenous to their surroundings. Hereculture seeps through trees full of flocks of robins. A lone heron graced the botanical gardens. Like monk parakeets we fly above the rooftops. Ouroboros sustains us, Persephone among us. Who can say we are not Han Shan? Even Han Shan cannot say the height of human spirituality was reached with no dogma, no rituals, no church. A fly-wisk removed them all. Yet some must have suffered depression and pain, plagued by lusty organs, haunted by thoughts of more comfortable ways to live.
A pair of shoes for walking summer trails was returned because of "a sore Achilles." It was on sale for half-price because a few thousand years ago, in a war known to us only by the greatness of its poet, an arrow found a hero's only vulnerable spot.
Whether bull, sheep, or human, he reduced to ashes, he dissolved, sublimated, fermented, he exposed the substance to gentle heat, he separated, multiplied and allowed to solidify, he distilled and softened and finally united. He assayed each substance by this means or that....He was driven by the idea of establishing matter alone as the nourishing soil of the mind, just as the Gods extract their price in choice cuts of meat, burnt offerings "unto the Lord." Sacrifice on the twin stone altars of obdurate power and merciless greed is the oldest form of piety.
Since age 21, the year of my first "psychological expedition," I've needed to live within sight of a mountain; preferably a holy one, but aren't they all? Today, from my eyrie twelve stories high, I ask: Can I see Mt. Hood? Will St. Helens smoke today? What's that cloud sitting atop Mt. Adams got to say?
A neighbor said: "We were sitting outside this morning drinking coffee. The sky was perfectly blue, there were no clouds, and suddenly it began to rain."
On his walking tours, Bashō passed roadside temples and shrines. Small bodhisattvas, jizo, peeked at him from behind bushes. Passersby might politely exchange a poem. The whole environment was sacred. Saints and demons, scientists and poets, all worked in the same field. A god without a temple would find a tree, a rock, a bowl of fruit.
I still own a backpack, a warm sleeping bag, mess kit, canteen, two-person tent, high-altitude Bluet stove. All in storage. I walk all day and take a bus home at dusk. The altitude has changed, but my attitude's the same. Lightweight shoes, quick-drying socks, windbreaker, daypack, water bottle, waterproof paper and pen, just enough food for lunch.
An aging red brick building reminds me of my childhood home where each brick was leveled and cemented into place by skilled hands. Their rough faces testify to this, unlike the smooth prefabricated facades rising in our cities today. My maternal grandfather had been a mason. When my sister and I were children, on Friday nights he'd appear with gifts of rock candy made of raw sugar.