Saturday, January 2, 2016

January 2: An Oracle, Miracles, Kim Addonizio, "New Year's Day," Confessions of Saint Marty

When I slide under a barbed-wire fence, cross a field, and run over a sycamore trunk felled across the water, I'm on a little island shaped like a tear in the middle of Tinker Creek.  On one side of the creek is a steep forested bank; the water is swift and deep on that side of the island.  On the other side is the level field I walked through next to the steers' pasture; the water between the field and the island is shallow and sluggish.  In summer's low water, flags and bulrushes grow along a series of shallow pools cooled by the lazy current.  Water striders patrol the surface film, crayfish hump along the silt bottom eating filth, frogs shout and glare, and shiners and small bream hide among roots from the sulky green heron's eye.  I come to this island every month of the year.  I walk around it, stopping and staring, or I straddle the sycamore log over the creek, curling my legs out of the water in winter, trying to read.  Today I sit on dry grass at the end of the island by the slower side of the creek.  I'm drawn to this spot.  I come to it as to an oracle; I return to it as a man years later will seek out the battlefield where he lost a leg or an arm.

Annie Dillard is an observer.  She sees with a scientist's gaze and a poet's wonder.  Tinker Creek is filled with tiny miracles of nature.  Water striders and crayfish and shiners.  Sun striking water.  Clouds boiling on windless days.  It's a place that makes Dillard stop and reflect.  A New Year's Day made manifest in stone and soil and light and creation.  Every moment about strangeness and newness and oldness.

Yes, I am still in the meditative state of New Year's Eve/Day.  Thinking about the past and wondering about the future.  I am trying to approach 2016 with excitement and hope.  There are blessings headed my way.  I just need to be more aware of them.  I need to be like Annie Dillard in a way.  No, I don't mean I need to live a cabin in the woods and go for hikes three times a day.  I just need to keep my eyes open.  See the miracles.

I'm not much for New Year's resolutions.  Resolutions are promises easily broken, lost after a week or two of reality.  So, I am not calling my miracle-seeking a resolution.  It's a change in attitude or state of mind.  A shift from darkness to light.  I feel much more comfortable with that description.  It seems more doable.  Sort of like saying that I'm going to cut back on drinking Diet Mountain Dew without setting any clear or measurable goal.

And I need to remember that, even in the dark times of life, there are still stars in the heavens, moonlight in the trees.  Loss, I guess, can be a way of making room for blessings.  Pain can be a reminder of how precious life and health and happiness are.  That's what Tinker Creek is all about, I think.

Saint Marty has a New Year's poem for you on this second day of January, 2016.  Find a miracle in your life today.

New Year's Day

by:  Kim Addonizio

The rain this morning falls   
on the last of the snow

and will wash it away. I can smell   
the grass again, and the torn leaves

being eased down into the mud.   
The few loves I’ve been allowed

to keep are still sleeping
on the West Coast. Here in Virginia

I walk across the fields with only   
a few young cows for company.

Big-boned and shy,
they are like girls I remember

from junior high, who never   
spoke, who kept their heads

lowered and their arms crossed against   
their new breasts. Those girls

are nearly forty now. Like me,   
they must sometimes stand

at a window late at night, looking out   
on a silent backyard, at one

rusting lawn chair and the sheer walls   
of other people’s houses.

They must lie down some afternoons   
and cry hard for whoever used

to make them happiest,   
and wonder how their lives

have carried them
this far without ever once

explaining anything. I don’t know   
why I’m walking out here

with my coat darkening
and my boots sinking in, coming up

with a mild sucking sound   
I like to hear. I don’t care

where those girls are now.   
Whatever they’ve made of it

they can have. Today I want   
to resolve nothing.

I only want to walk
a little longer in the cold

blessing of the rain,   
and lift my face to it.

Confessions of Saint Marty

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