Since then the killing frost has struck. If I got lost now on the mountains or in the valley, and acted foolishly, I would be dead of hypothermia and my brain wiped smooth as a plate long before the water in my flesh elongated to crystal slivers that would pierce and shatter the walls of my cells. The harvest is in, the granaries full. The broadleaf trees of the world's forests have cast their various fruits: "Oak, a nut; Sycamore, achenes; California Laurel, a drupe; Maple, a samara; Locust, a legume; Pomegranate, a berry; Buckeye, a capsule, Apple, a pome." Now the twin leaves of the seedling chestnut oak on the Carvin's Cove path have dried, dropped and blown; the acorn itself is shrunk and sere. But the sheath of the stem holds water and the white root still delicately sucks, porous and permeable, mute. The death of the self of which the great writers speak is no violent act. It is merely the joining of the great rock heart of the earth in its roll. It is merely the slow cessation of the will's sprints and the intellect's chatter: it is waiting like a hollow bell with stilled tongue. Fuge, tace, quiesce. The waiting itself is the thing.
This passage smells like autumn to me. The killing frost. Berry and drupe and legume and pome. I was recently on a panel with two other poets. We spoke about the power of the month of October, which is what Dillard is speaking about here. One of the poets said that October is his most productive month. It is a time when, for him, it's easier to tap into the root of writing. Or, as Dillard says above, it is a time for the "slow cessation of the will's sprints and the intellect's chatter." The poet simply becomes a hollow bell, waiting to to rung.
This last weekend of October, I find myself exhausted for some reason. My mind barely functions at the moment. The evidence: it took me close to four minutes to compose the previous two sentences. It is only 4:30 in the afternoon as I type this, and yet I could go into hibernation right now. I don't feel like a hollow bell, full of potential music. More like a pile of dead leaves, rattling and scratching like bones in the wind.
I do have two writing projects in the works: my collection of Bigfoot poems and my annual Christmas essay. The former has started taking shape, although I'm not sure what that shape is eventually going to be. The latter is merely a great idea in my head at the moment--one that requires some research and poetic inspiration.
So, my bell has been ringing this month. Tonight, however, I feel the need for rest. My body and mind let me know every once in a while that I am in need of more than my usual nightly quota of five hours of sleep. A late afternoon slump. Sometimes, I regain my energy. Other times, I surrender. Fall asleep on the couch for five hours. Crawl into bed for a power nap and stay there until the morning.
I want to rest this evening. But I also want to read and work on my Christmas essay a little bit. Perhaps I will be able to do both. Or neither. Remain mute, like Bob Dylan. Refuse to acknowledge reality.
If the Swedish Academy calls tonight, Saint Marty will answer the phone. He doesn't want to be accused of being impolite and arrogant.