fieldnotes 10.27.16

Defiant Goodwill

‘There isn’t one that we cannot discover.’

In the midst of driving through the gloomy gloom, I thought of a long-ago acquaintance who, when feeling she could not find light or help, looked for advice in the first words that she came across that rang in her ears.
And, as I thought about it, a truck driving by said “Defiant!”
And then another said “Goodwill.”

Seeds planted in the rain, they come up quick.
We can still feel it trying to turn.
Don’t.
Dig in your heels against the rising pull —
those blades hung,
poised,
exposed —
and know you are a soldier, of sorts,
with skin in place of armor,
vulnerable enough to choose to bleed by your own hand.
And there’s more weeping waiting,
but know this:
The world is indeed against you
when you stand against yourself.
And the wind is picking up, colder.
Find the defiance to face it.
Find the goodwill in knowing
that even on its grayest, most darkening day,
the sun is still there.


10.27.16
(50/44)

44 degrees. cloudy and damp after a day of settled rain. it’s windy. chilly. the birds will be all together — whether we see them, a matter of chance. A dozen shovelers on the Marsh. and I am out lion-taming, I suppose. rainy day knocked the leaves down. trees, newly exposed. the new regulars. 2 grackles. red bellied woodpecker, heard. a whole flock of bluebirds! instead of flying off, they come close as if curious, about 12 feet off the trail, as if to say hello. in their midst, a purple finch. and another flock of bluebirds, or is it the same birds, following me? white-throated sparrows. goldfinches in their winter coats. cardinal. blue jay. birds all coming out to visit. raspberry leaves all red-brown-burgundy. still some berries on the branches, all dried up. this spot is some kind of magic now. can I soak it in a second? food for some kinda winter bird. and no wonder the prairie plants are continually following me home, the way I wade in to see them. … walking along the meadow by the pond it is still cloudy. I cast no shadow, and yet, my eyes trick me and I see in front of me every shadow I have ever cast. Pause and wait. Mirages pass. Water in the pond is high, and water bugs still skid along the surface at the edge. Heron objects to being sketched. 2 redtailed hawks. a big puffball. they’ve been out cutting firebreaks, and the blackbirds are quieter. black ducks are back. and 2 blue-winged teals. few patches of bluesky. sandhill crane. little flock of coots. just 7 pelicans. leaves mistaken for birds. birds mistaken for leaves. and then a big flock — hundreds — of grackles as I leave.

Notes:
Quote: (discover): Beth Orton / ‘Feel to Believe’ from Central Reservation (1999)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 10.25.16

‘… some kind of path …’

October nibbles, adoringly,
but doesn’t bite yet —

(how it is a matter of tolerance,
an easing in to pain)

— its wind pushing our edges.

And I am frightened.
Whether losing my ground to a drought wind
or to the slow, steady erosion of a wet summer,
still I am lessened

(how my right foot tried to send me down the stairs).

It is unhurried.
It is no grand act of the gods.
But it shakes us to our foundation anyway.

And I am lost.
Naming and nameless,
I am lost.
I do all I can do,
and all I can do is let it pull me on and on —

with the promise of bluebirds, with the promise of stained-glass oak leaves, with the promise of winter’s lonely quiet, with the promise of first woodland flowers again, with the promise of it

— changeful and changeless —

and its resistance to definition
and how it lives in the unspoken.

We need not be beholden
to the constraint or myth
of inevitability.
Our living is haphazard.

I have no truck with faith.
Only, a sort of mutuality —
and the deep animal movement of the heart —

how to feel it is to believe.

And how every piece of evidence points to the illusion of the finite.


10.25.16
(53/39)

46 degrees. mostly very cloudy (though the sun came out by halfway round). mitts and woolly hat. vertigo prevention. goldfinches and robins. big flock of cedar waxwings — busy! curious! gregarious! song sparrow. and robins. and robins. and robins. downy woodpecker. a line of clouds like the rungs of a ladder. i’m too tired — soul-tired — for climbing. Feel my bones. Bones like stones. oaks and maples a crazy quilt. sun breaking the clouds. my favorite east-side tree — an old burr oak — most beautiful when bare. its breadth amazing. so quiet, birdwise. the wind in the grass, sun in trees against gray sky. in the tops of the indiangrass. everything feels unreal. watch then scare up a heron on the pond. in the sunlight, in flight, he really does look blue. lands on the other side and stills. we both watch an osprey wing over. kingfisher, heard. and still the river is full of blackbirds. redwing alarm and grackle chuckles. kingfisher, seen. still a few pelicans. 15 or so. some kind of sandpiper. spotted? 4 sandhill cranes chase off a heron.

Notes:
Quote: (some path): Nick Cave + the Bad Seeds / ‘Into My Arms’ from The Boatman’s Call (1997)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

(tbt) breathe

From Autumn 1993

breathe

it starts with breathing
the moon waxes
the moon wanes
the stars change
leaves grow
and fall
and grow again
the fish go deeper
and deeper
you are happy
she is full
you are crazy
you are sad
she is new
you are calm
it goes deeper
breathing
light comes —
grows —
light leaves
it becomes dark
you wax
you are full
you wane
it becomes dark
and then light again
you play by the ocean
you are a child
you play by the ocean
you grow old and die
you play by the ocean
you are born
and again
going deeper
and breathing
you cross a river
your heart is troubled
you cross a river
your heart is at peace
the moon grows full
you celebrate
you mourn
you grow full
the moon is a sliver
reflected in silver water
you mourn
you celebrate
you grow empty
it starts with breathing
going deeper
deeper
the moon waxes
the moon wanes
you grow empty
you grow full
it ends with breathing

Big Bluestem

I got lost in the big bluestem,
higher than my head.

There are more witnesses than we can manage —
and they misread everything —
hammers and nails driving home my mistake.

You need summer still,
and I am starting the fall but —

still hanging on the sun where it gets caught up,
tiny seed stars in the wind and prism cloud —

our skins resist the fade.

We wait and hope it all comes at once —
and then we learn to do the work
and do the work
and do the work —

open the windows,
whatever the weather!

I am giving up on names.
And you, like me, are a maker of myth,
and, like me, let down to find it unreal.

(10.4.18)

fieldnotes 10.20.19

Circe or Siren?

I’m not sure what this is —

do I name everything else
to avoid naming it? —

(trees so orange you don’t need the sun)

— how we love that it is limitless

— how to name is to limit,
to confine and contain.

(Oh this endless wandering,
timely, timeless,
in my left hand I crush the yellow coneflower seeds,
breathe it in,
no, more deeply than that —
sow it in the wind for next year.)

There is just that mystery in the Sirens’,
in Circe’s story —

endlessness of ocean,
prairie seen from above,
autumn trees at the edge of a gray sky,
milky way when you can escape encroaching light

— which makes us long and loathe to tell it.


10.20.16
(56/46, gray and windy after overnight rain.)

autumn. october, for sure. ‘and if your boat is broken out on the rocks.’ flock of robins. it’s brisk enough i could’ve used mitts. a hat. remember next time. dried yellow coneflowers. save enough to pick when you’re longing for that late-summer smell in the dead of winter. northern pintail. 4 pelicans, real close. redwings and canada geese of course. the prairie grass — tall and brown in the wet wind behind the rain. the oaks even going now, subtle and varied as their wakefulness, if you care to listen. golden crowned kinglet. bit windy for bluebirds today? quiet, relatively. a day to relish the wind. still the barest hint of singing bugs, just close enough to the edge of hearing to make you wonder if it’s just your ears ringing. chickadees. there is no sunlight, but the milkweed seeds still seem to catch it. siren. awe of endless ocean before anyone knew it had an end. beauty of the near. bluebird, heard not seen. big flock — 3 dozen or so — of sparrows, caught like leaves in the wind. undergrowth has died back. this time i remember where the old fenceposts are and don’t trip or fall. big puffball. (you can always use one more field guide… fungi, trees, tho perhaps the most useful would be a guide to homo sapiens … how would you name them if you didn’t know their names?)

Circe — a lure so strong as to feel almost holy. a thing of the gods. meant.

singing trees are done for now, leaves crunch underfoot. big flock of robins. still frogs, down by the water. white crowned sparrow. 30-some-odd pelicans, still. 3 herons. 1 egret. sandhill crane. grebes. hundreds of robins, by the river. little flock of goldfinches, not at all gold anymore, as I leave.

Notes:
Quote: (broken boat): Joan Shelley / ‘Stay On My Shore’ from Over and Even (2015)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 10.18.16

Euterpe’s Promise

The sun chooses one distant golden tree,
and it is blinding.
How nothing changes.
I still can’t stop watching them —

(We are naming the bluebirds.)

— your fingers like wings in the meadow,
unexpected sweetness.

And I could be more persuasive,
but the sun rises where it rises.

I want to put mine over yours,
a laying on of hands,
as if something good were still possible in them —
some calling-forth you look for.

And just as we grow timeless,
the moon hunts us out,
the weather grows seasonless —

(The bluebirds are everywhere —
everywhere.
An aulos echoes —
and they are everywhere.)

— and I am lucky,
and so are you.

We don’t really believe in the Devil,
anyway.
And we can walk away from what does not serve.
No specialists —
we keep our visions vague.

Suspended like this,
I promise
never to say anything
untrue.


10.18.16
(75/56)

flock of killdeer. singing bugs. none of the woolly bears seem to agree, at any rate. egrets, up in the trees. gnat swarm. shoo! it looks like, but does not feel like, october. osprey. plenty of water fowl, but i’ve left my binos behind — no time for closer looking today. cattail tops going fuzzy. redwings still calling from deep in. bluebirds. heard, then seen. downy woodpecker. ‘you were such a good girl then.’ red admiral. all kinds of fungi! a new thing to learn. ruby-crowned kinglets. bluebirds again. 12. butterfly, a white. ‘you’re lucky to even know me / you’re lucky to be alive.’ look: still a handful of pelicans. asters not quite done yet. bluestem proving it’s not either. more bluebirds by the singing trees. yellow-rumped warblers. the counting! fillmore’s years’ of records. all the birds. and counted, too. but only birds of course, and especially songbirds. sparrows and warblers. a specialist. sowing indiangrass again. it’s so hard to resist. dragonfly, frenetic by the pond. a startled egret. flock of … shovelers? … river is still all blackbirds and robins. fallen tree in my path makes a small hole in the canopy. sun through yellow trees. here’s the old man, his leaves just starting to turn, and further in, the grandfather, almost no living branches left. who knows how long he has? as i leave, the geese arrive in their hundreds…

Notes:
Quote 1: (good girl): Isobell Campbell & Mark Lanegan / ‘The Circus Is Leaving Town’ from Ballad of the Broken Seas (2006)
Quote 2: (lucky): Liz Phair / ‘Polyester Bride’ from Whitechocolatespaceegg (1998)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

Hunter’s Moon

An idle infection —
the cyclical skewed

as we look for those continuities that sustain us.

Are your sins of omission dishonest,
after all?

It’s hard to wake when the season sings sleep.

I would settle for the truth of it,
now.
If only you could own your part.

I don’t tend toward irrationality.
And the illusion of it formed by this half-truth
is a weight.