Cold Fire

frozen-trees-around-the-road

Northbound US 81 zig-zagged east
through Sisseton, South Dakota
past a Lutheran church, a graveyard,
and the Mobil Supper Club
before straightening north again and
heading toward Fargo.

I think an Interstate, odd-numbered,
has either obliterated 81 by now
or turned its two lanes into six,
interrupted only by occasional exits
where Supper Clubs have become Applebees
and the tables are filled with travelers
rather than Lutherans (or Methodists, or Indians).

But there is a place
about two miles north of Sisseton’s
city limits where, in the winter of ’72,
there where miles of barbed wire and oak posts
separated the highway from the prairie,
that one morning, about 7 or 8
when the eastern sunlight was bouncing from
hill to rise
in the reflected white light of last night’s snow and ice,
that box elder trees, ten of them or twenty of them,
caught the sunlight in ice-covered branches and
glassine canopies became as
frozen fire burning against the cold, so clear blue sky.

Cold fire, forty years ago. But
burning still..

David B. Weber, March 2013

a pelican ponder

pelicandrawn
In groups of two, three, four
they skim the wet surfaces of Earth,
seeing past the white, churned murkiness
into the silver flashing of
mealtime without end..
…Amen.
Pelicans: pterodactyl memories,
ancient reptilian echoes across an avian sky.
Hatched..where? In swamps- estuarial kingdoms of brown-twigged nests;
Transformed-
Sleek, dirt colored silk jettisoned from the sky,
become a prayer of God to a sometimes tired world:

"Continue.."

 

 

@david weber, august, 2010

 

de colores II

The sun is not yellow,
nor is the grass green~
and the sky is blue, yes,
but much more.
..The real colors of the sun
and of grass
are found on the backs of seabirds,
and shining through the wings
of dragonflies
The other colors of the sky are
seen
when you close your eyes while eating
rhubarb pie (Mom’s recipe)
And when you feel the dog’s nose
against your bare leg.

See More

pelicanpencil

 

@david weber, august, 2010

Willingness

If you’re willing to see it,
There’s a tree over there about to explode in a fiery green
cataclysm against the sundown sky.

If you’re willing to hear it,
The heartbeat of the universe is throbbing pink and white
in the primrose patch at our feet.

If you’re willing to taste it,
A sugar-laced kiss on lakeside winds
is caressing your lips, even now.

If you’re willing to touch it
(and I can tell by the warmth of your fingertips you are),

The grass will reveal where God has been dancing for you
every springtime of your life..

Showy Primrose

David Weber, 2007

The Memory of Yellow

One day

(we don’t know where

or when

only that it had to be)

One day

a leaf, high on a sky-reaching cane

bent away from the perfection of

green..

deep green…

ocean green churning Life,

the leaf bent away and was

yellow

in the Sun.

It was yellow and there was no yellow

but the sun

and the shine of dragonfly wings.

Now this yellow, this primal yellow

this yellow become flesh

in the world, and warm.

In ten thousand years there was a shoreline of cane stalks

full of yellow

buzzed on and loved by swarms seeking

the sun warmed sweetness of rain

in the yellow fleshy folds

and then

a million years after, there was a stalky but stunted

bush of cane

nestling in orange fiery fury,

insects up and down its tangled highways

bringing, taking life- orange life- that way

and that way and on the wind

and then two million and there was pink

ten million and there was red

forty million and there were fields

grassy leafy green fields filled with

blue, another blue, and a third blue

and purple, and white- so many whites!-

and

yellowyellowyellowyellowyellow

and there was no one to name the colors

no one to classify and organize the colors

and the shapes, the seeds, the fruits

nor the bees, the ants, the butterflies,

and dragonflies (smaller now)

no one.

Which is why today the yellow waits patiently

for that time again

when the names won’t matter

and orange will call to pink

and only green

or maybe an ant or a bee

will be in the way of that calling..

(the yellow remembers)

David Weber, 5/2010

There are times, like now, and more frequently, when I know we are in the way of the earth. We are in the way of what the earth was doing for billions of years without us, and I wonder if..if the others of the world- the flowers, the cane, the insects, monkeys, snakes and coyotes, trees and

the oceans

could vote..if they could vote up or down, yay or nay, how long do you think they would let us stay? I hear a blackball rolling down the centuries, getting nearer. growing louder.

Birdsong in Four Parts

I don’t know the name of that bird that speaks in repeated quatrain-

AABC again and again: four times, rest, then four times more.

Nor do I know the “whom-to” or the “where-when” of its soft low trill.

But there- over there to the west- is another responding in the

same verse, same tune,

and now another, to the east

and these two replies (plot them on graph paper if you must)

begin to reveal the “why:”

procreation?

discovery of food?

particular dried dried grasses of the correct nesting density and length?

or simply (and I kind of hope this is so)

companionship?

Do quatrain-speaking birds have dactyls they bird-giggle over?

Double dactyls that causes bird-guffaws?

Or cinquains they sing in quiet celebration?

Anything other than noting the four note melody is, of course,

mere human-bent conjecture;

worse, it is my mere personally-bent conjecture..

I would like to know on

intellectual, investigatory, inquistive

levels, what the quatrains mean.

But not-knowing is important, too:

In ignorance I have no opportunity to

judge myself separate

from the birdsong.

I can only- in Mystery- accept the calling out

as a prelude, or an echo

of my own..

4/17/10

The Dilemma of Death (part 6 of a series)

“Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order blindly and dumbly to rot and disappear forever. It is a terrifying dilemma to be in and to have to live with.” (Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, The Free Press, 1973, p.26)

I watch my dogs lying in the early afternoon sun. They are on their sides, utterly relaxed into the small variations in grade beneath them. A dandelion clump pressed against a ribcage does not seem to have the power over them that the corner of a misplaced pillow might have over me. Both of them are asleep within moments of lying down, utterly at ease in a safe place with their “pack” (myself, the other dog, and the cat who will occasionally make an appearance). They sleep as if they have been very busy all morning, like they’ve been running and running and are now exhausted. But they have not been especially busy at all. This is how they always rest- wholly and completely, without a single anxious thought about the future gnawing at their psyche. What looks like exhaustion to us is, in fact, perfect relaxation, complete wholeness between the dogs’ consciousness and physical bodies, without a single thought toward “splendid uniqueness.”

“The lower animals are, of course, spared this painful contradiction, as they lack a symbolic identity and the self consciousness that goes with it.” (ibid.) In other words, animals have no awareness of the one way journey through physical life which they, like everything else, are on. They give no regard to their own Death; they are not anxious about tomorrow. (Tomorrow? What is that anyway?) Obviously, on some level, carnivorous animals are aware that the physical death of their foodstuff is a desirable state. And it may well be that some animals- dolphins and elephants come to mind- may recognize a consciousness within themselves that is finite. But humans are the only ones who institutionalized the awareness of Death Impending. Humans are the only animals who allow “Death’s second self” (That’s Shakespeare for Sleep) to be interrupted, ever, by thoughts of Dying. Humans are the only ones who can become neurotic about the prevention of things which might be harmful enough to cause death, or who are able to be addicted to substances which alleviate- in always failing measure- their preoccupations with Death.

Every faith tradition has some dogmatic and/or doctrinal tenets that deal with the awareness of Death with which all humans live. All faith traditions acknowledge the pain- fallenness, insanity, suffering- that accompanies this awareness of Death, and the vital need for acceptance of both that awareness and of Death itself. In lieu of that acceptance, the adherents of some faiths are given the option, within their faith’s teachings, of looking beyond death, into eternity. (I’m not here in this series to judge the content of various end of life scenarios, only to acknowledge that do exist and perform vital functions in the whole lives of many persons and communities.

The commonality of our pain takes different specific forms but all of them have dirt in common. All of our lives, after Death, end up in some way, in the dirt. As ashes, or sealed within a metal vacuum which slows down but does not stop the process of decomposition, or laid directly onto the dirt which begins immediately to absorbs the liquids and fats of life, dirt is our bed, sometimes quickly, always eventually.

It is dirt over which we stand in “towering majesty.” It is dirt which contrasts so harshly with our names, our perceptions of our Selves, and the legacy we imagine ourselves leaving behind. It is dirt which covers our face to the world and finally blocks the world to our face.

Dirt is just..so damn final!

And that’s our dilemma. It is a dilemma for every human being on earth, too, and has been since the very first time human consciousness reached into an imagined future and put the 2+2 of life and death together. It added up to dirt then and adds up to dirt now, despite all kinds of conveyances, rituals, religions, and proposed alternative scenarios which have been placed in front that final “resting place.” (And note that phrase- “resting place.” It is one of many, many, many phrases and words used about Death which attempt to take a little bit of Death’s sting away.)

Elysian Fields await, beyond the River Styx, near the New Jerusalem, in the sweet by and by. We’ll visit some of those places and see what they might reveal about our fears, and our hopes.