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QUINTESSENCE

By Silence, By Gold

Flowers of October, Gutenberg
IX
A lingering day was enveloped by water,
by fire, by smoke, by silence, by gold,
by silver, by ashes, by passing and there
it lay scattered, the longest of days:

the tree tumbled whole and calcified,
one century then another hid it away
until a broad slab of stone forever
replaced the rustling of its leaves.

- Pablo Neruda, Stones of the Sky

Dark before the dawn and I am on the road. Making the airport run, nose to tail-light in a stream of red chasing the silver arrows. On my way back home I drive into the mouth of clouds spitting fire. The dawn so huge it swallows the still plateau, the pines dusted in frost, the concrete highways stirring to life. The glow of morning chases the night all the way to my quiet street.

Coming in the door, I hang up my keys and pull on gloves and head back out for my morning walk. I shake the stiffness out of my bones, feeling as rounded and rooted as the thousand year rocks and grandfather trees. After 45 years of running, one knee is bone on bone and today walk is better than run, better than not moving at all. Life reminds us of the non-negotiable passage of time in the most prosaic ways.

Along the bluff fog rises up the valley. Dense, colorless, chill. The breath of earth stills as it turns from the sun. Around me deciduous trees shriek noisily with color, their crimson and persimmon and curry yellows the most festive of chorales to sing the cornucopia, hint the barren that will follow. My breath explodes in small puffs before me as I part the dried grasses, feet crunching stiff wild oat. Bright sun penetrates through the fog here and there, god of somnolent things, warming the stones and snakes awake. It is here, the world cries. The beauty of fullness. The fall. Do you see?

Home, I remove my gloves and embrace the settledness of an empty house. Around me the quiet and still shoulder in, I am wrapped in the waiting. The pure that gestates creative impulse. Today I vow to mute the whispers of the busy world, silence the phone, turn off the devices, cloak the fretful television, the news and melodies and playlists bursting to entertain, saturate. My gift today? Colors of quiet.
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