Out walking early this morning in a strong southwest wind promising rain, I fell to thinking about my personal history, and how, one by one, so many of my tired habits and other forms of learned behavior have fallen away. It has gradually become clear, for instance, that to think, behave, and eat a certain way, simply because that was the way my father and grandfather thought, behaved, and ate, […]
Songs and Letters
Sleep is a boy fishing on the last day of summer — then school begins. Fishing I am fishing now, in a stream that has followed me down from the big sky at night, muddy and rippled with stars. My shoes are dreaming on a rock, full of fine wet sand. My clothes have begun to doubt me, but my hat is a mile wide, a meadow yawning in […]
During the last few years of her life, my mother did not know the time, the day, the month, the season, the year, or the name of the town where she lived. She just lived. She liked music. She liked flowers. She liked apple juice. She did not like pain. Now, I know what time it is. But I do not know what time is. I like rain. At […]
We will leave early this morning for another long walk at Silver Falls. But the countryside we will drive through to get there is every bit as beautiful in its own way, and as worth walking, except that the walking would have to be done on roads. And so, that we may see one beautiful place, roads take us through other beautiful places, while keeping us apart from them. And […]
I have had my taste of country life, and of city life too. I have begged on my knees at the well, and my poor numb feet have known the pavement grain by grain. In each kind of life I have found an intimacy that gladdens every curse, and thwarts the common misconceptions. Each helps explain the other. The old graveyard that is surrounded by houses now, once stood alone […]
The cool, moist airflow off the ocean this July is bringing the seagulls inland. With such a fine current at their disposal, I imagine the sixty-mile journey here is but a two- or three-hour ride. It’s good to hear their cries. And their arrival makes me wonder about the summer ahead. Will it be milder than the past several, which have been marked by excessive heat and numerous forest fires? […]
This old battlefield is more than a place.
It is a face. It is grace.
No One Asks the Soldiers
When they’re dead,
they all look so familiar.
Songs and Letters, March 20, 2008
At the rate I’m going, steady though it may be, it will take me several years to finish reading all fourteen volumes of Thoreau’s journal. I hope I have those years. But if I don’t, I’m happy to have had those leading up to them. And when I say hope, I mean I’m willing to live them if they’re given me, and that I understand very well they might not […]
Love is light in the palm of the beloved, and a bee’s in the dew on the rose. June 30, 2019 Epitaph what strange liquor is this? who poured it into my glass? why do I love its flavor? why can I not resist? Songs and Letters, October 12, 2006 Another Song I Know, Cosmopsis Books, 2007
Well before daylight, in the sublime quiet, reading the letters of a thoughtful young man who later lost his life in the Civil War at the age of twenty-nine: Charles Russell Lowell, nephew of the great writer and poet, James Russell Lowell. Then, suddenly, raindrops — so few in number it reminds me of my mother sprinkling water on her ironing. June 26, 2019 The Sunlight on My Mother’s […]