spring, and though I have watched for it, it always takes me by
surprise, as if inadvertant. There is always a day which mixes barrenness
with yearning, a wild cooped up feeling much like despair, and
another day which is more like hope. There is the day when to
step outside is to be born again. And the next day is to be born anew.
In the midst of this is early-spring gardening.
The lawn from the house to the pond is under old oaks; I am perpetually
cleaning up after them. Fall is a blizzard of acorns and leaves, like raking
back the sea, and now we are all twiggy from the spring storms. I rake it inch
by inch as my old Dad instructs me, the old rustic and his idiot yokel son
in absurd straw hats with brains of straw--or so I see us. This happens to be
a day of wild surmise, and while I rake, I grumble Sufi prayers,
so low does this earth seem to me, and how annoying do I find
the my Dad's instructions,f the sort made by the profoundly deaf.
This is rude, but I truly believe at moments that
it is deafness by design on my Dad's part, so the way things will be done
will be the right way to do them, which is his way. Even in his dotage,
however, it is perfectly clear to me that he is an altogether more
cheerful and reasonable human being than I am. I see this
from on high, as it were, which does not entirely improve my mood but
leavens it.Hence my role as bumpkin son--whathisname,
boyfriend of Mopsa.
The Sufi Prayers are no doubt an attempt to address God via a different
departmental mail-service and circumvent the Baptist vote.
Whether it is they or the raking which improve my mood or if--
as I believe-activity and prayer are ideal combinations--by the time I
am finished I am glad.And so it is every spring.
Every spring the hesitant unfolding of color from monochromaticism.
Every spring the budbreak shimmer, the rustling undercurrent of color.
All the while color has been changing its carpet undercover.
Throughout the winter something has been in bloom, from sasanquas to
mahonias to witch hazels to edgeworthia now to jonquils, quince,
camelia japonicae,forsythia. These early blooms
are brought into the house as if to cast out winter.The pond,
meanwhile, has been a curious claret color where it
reflects the maples abud. On the branches of the maple
themselves, the buds are disguised by threadlike leaflets
the color of thistle---which is to say no color at all--but
reflected in the pond they appear a clear wine red.
Otherwise the recent rains have polished the pond to an obsidian mirror
--which ripples!--the ideal metier for the reflection of massive cloud
cleaner than clean, Aeolian white, the Doric columns of the firmament.
3Weeding as a Spiritual Discipline:
Who I thought you might be was not as you proved; I am unamused.
Now I weed to remove you from my thoughts, thwart amour-propre,
and to stop telling you off to myself, and pull instead
this barbed weed from the bed, that chickweed or insidious
These are the evil deeds which I have thought,
the bridge I wished to push you off, the barbed thorn or bristle,
the briary patch to catch and scratch, the fire-ants' mongst melonplants,
the hidden thorn. I shake the clump of Johnson grass
and gradually you pass from concern.
The bed no longer overgrown
has benefitted from your scorn,
and I no longer mourn.