fieldnotes 12.8.16

Have Mercy

‘Don’t believe in yourself.’

Your mercy’s not enough to make me
and I’m running low.
The wind is putting everything to bed —
prairiegrass on its side,
a hawk braving it over the bare oakwood.

It is not enough to ask,
and anyway you can’t even bring yourself that far.
We’re on the darker end of dark.
The winter birds —

sparrows, goldfinches, a nuthatch —

huddle where the branches grow dense,
not exactly hiding.

And which are we?
Do we seek prey or communion?
Can we learn all the ways to care for fire?

We are shaped and made early.

We wait for wind, flame, moon, mood —
we wait for it to refine us,
to destroy these small vanities
and find that our virtues have never been an opposite of sin
but something more —

something that weathers it all —
movement,
stillness,
hunger,
humility,
tenderness,
curiosity —
something that simply is,
whether or not we fashion it to faith.


12.8.16
(25/17)

bit of flurry. insubstantial. redtailed hawk. nuthatch. hairy woodpecker. goldfinches and sparrows. flock of sandhill cranes over the east end. the ink keeps freezing in my pen. my cheeks are going to be wind-burned. how wind this cold feels like fingers of ice gripping the base of your skull. the naturalist. learning never stops. more books. resolutions. shouldve worn 2 hats today. a whole flock of song sparrows, down in the snow on the grass. low moaning wind in bare trees and dry leaved oak… all the ways of wind. canada geese. mallards. where the river diverts and meets the pond. how the wind makes tears then freezes them. ice along the edge of water. willful ignorance vs. curiosity.

‘We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be alright.’

Notes:
Quote 1 (don’t believe): David Bowie / ‘Quicksand’ from Hunky Dory (1971)
Quote 2 (we weren’t): Leonard Cohen / ‘Sisters of Mercy’ from Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)


fieldnotes 12.6.16

Winter Weaving

It seems almost accidental —
instinctive —
so simple and automatic when present,
though its presence,
by all means,
is rare —
a kind of pattern recognition via fogged mirror —
from mostly not quite there
to beyond the surface,
from the then
to the next in the now.

I look to precision:
the rhythm of the shuttle,
the spacing of thin silk threads,
and that perfect sense of mechanical making sensory.
I watch you through the window —
your first snow —
and later walk into it.

And I’m afraid something’s gone awry:
breathe to the hip;
count back from ten;
how we bruise beneath the skin

(the overemphasis of sin).

Leave it long and the wound unweaves beyond repair.

(And my fingers are going numb with it.)


12.4.16
(33/27)

first snow.
spider in the snow.
coyote escort in the snow.
heron flying in the snow.
cardinals, chickadees in the snow.
geese and ducks in the snow.

12.6.16
(40/26)

tree sparrow. the Marsh almost frozen — no birds there. the way the snow emphasizes the architecture of oak. i keep thinking i’m hearing sandhill cranes. things you forget about. mud from snow melt splashed up the backs of your calves. bluejay. some kinda sparrow that hides before i know. redbellied woodpecker. i can hear the robins — down along the firebreak. how you’re proud of doing so much until other people realize you can do so much and leave you nothing but so much to do for them.
(how bemused i am by my vanity.)
hunger.
little flock of mallards. shoveler. one black duck/mallard hybrid. on the pond. the pond. kingfisher heads down the river — muck! and mud!


fieldnotes 12.1.16

Belly of the Cauldron

When do we get to stop looking for it?
What combination of elements concocts such a thing?

(how even the most heart-moving, soul-crushing dream fades in time)

— the hand to soothe — the relief of kissing — the exuberance — the mutual vision — the ritual — the habitual — the carefulness — the consecration — the conservation of all that becomes endeared to us as we circle in and in —

(hearth and heart, affinity of time and rhythm)

What transformative fusion hides in the dark belly of the cauldron?
Is it through degrees of light or dark that we face our metamorphoses?

It’s a biting wind —
one to make us move and forget.
And these things are impossible:
the right answer;
the way home.

That doesn’t mean we’ll ever stop looking.

(when you feel you need to,
don’t forget to leave a note)


12.1.16
(41/36)

bluejay. deer in the sumac. a proper december day. cloudy and chill. wind biting. numbs my fingers. no birds on the Marsh. cardinal quietly tsit-tsitting. ever-friendly chickadees. mallards circling down to where the wood floods. winter stomping grounds. 4 robins in flight. now and again, a slight touch of rain in the air. not enough to soak. come and go. northern harrier. the intersections along the migratory path. how many nerve endings in thumb- and finger-tips? what made these trees here all grow sideways? sun? wind? the opening of the understory has extended the view in the woods. 9 canada geese on the pond. 5 or 6 cardinals. how the traffic seems louder after the leaves are down. black ducks. robin.


fieldnotes 11.29.16

Waiting

With no clear sight then,
I cannot say I knew content —
but oh, the safety of delusion,
until resignation becomes disruption.

It is not schizophrenia.

(…the unending curse, not of misinterpretation but worse — the absence of a common language…)

It is colder than I thought —
the wet iron cold of deep November
but with sun still in it
as the wind rattles their tops,
what used to be flowers,
on these days when the coyotes know us.
And the oaks are nearly naked now.

None of these ever learned to resist winter.

We need more of what each other has.
Like looking in a mirror,
each with too much and not enough,
alone and not.

And within these means of confinement —
still —
the world just keeps getting bigger
and more beautiful than we ever imagined.

Despite the way I keep stumbling
accidental cockleburs and thorns —

(…how in winter, the thorns turn too,
red and blue so we can see…)

and after all this time,
I am finally learning to carry the prairie with me.

You taught me that.


11.29.16
(57/44)

‘the best and the very worst thing’
10 shovelers. flock of grebes comes in. this is not schizophrenia. robin. how as the goldenrod’s leaves die back, a million things that grew in between are revealed. chickadee. 3 geese. then 9 geese. all in the air. muddy going into the woods, and the pond is high and birdless today. river flooded and running into the overflow. cardinals. mallards at the riverbend. slip into the woods by Old Twisty for a rest stop. go ahead and make a proper visit to the Hand Tree. try to avoid cockleburs. mostly succeed. that hunger is a virtue. (he sits. he eats. he drinks. he sleeps.) redbellied woodpecker. nuthatch. shovelers and shovelers and shovelers. 2 coopers hawks. couple out to spot pelicans. i hate to tell them they’re too lat,e but they are. by the time i’m on my way out, it’s getting warm. properly warm. unseasonal warm.

Notes:
Quote 1 (best, worst): Dave Ramont / ‘Lisanne’ from Taw (2009)


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 11.26.16

Seeds

Taking for granted the pound and hum,
invisible machinery —
a trembling electrical storm in the blood.

That red fruit is buried deep below the bone —
an earth’s worth of feeling.

We push our fingers into sweet black dirt —
mine into yours,
yours into mine —
drilling holes for surprising seeds.

And the roots thicken as they feast beneath,
taking known and unknown —
to name it,
and again to name it.

We are suited for something better than this,
but I suppose we must make do.

And it’s quiet in the woods.
We must name each other without making a sound.

In another season,
those unseen branches will burst from our chests.

Just like everything else,
we keep pushing inward to dark,
growing a hardness
and a skin to withstand it,
so that maybe when it comes back
we’ll be better gatherers of light.


11.26.16
(46/32)

45 degrees. cloudy. and still. the hundreds of geese wobble into the Marsh. blue heron. lots of shovelers and a blue-winged teal. my fingers freezing on the binos. flocks of robins. junco. sharp-shinned hawk.
the world showing us how neutral is anything but.
flock of goldfinches in flight. a seeming sleepiness. an illusion. i try to ignore my whiskey head. walking it off. ‘get out of my way.’ angry stomp. envy. despair. rage. frustration. how do i not burst into flames? drown? suffocate? freeze? goldfinch. clouds and smoke and naked trees. mourning dove. undergrowth still mostly green. mallards on the pond of course. red bellied woodpecker. blue heron at the riverbend. rustling of oaks that hold their leaves through winter. until new ones grow. harrier. boatload of canada geese. coots. another heron.

Notes:
Quote 1 (out of my way): Dave Ramont / ‘It Ain’t Funny’ from Taw (2009)


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 11.15-16.16

Nameless

Troubled by troubling,
we weave fog to keep each other close —
no wind to dissipate,
no weather to catch a sail away.

And,
with its hidden distances,
the world is close enough to touch.
at once near and far:
sumac, riverbirch,
ethereal
silhouette of looming,
naked trees.

How we embrace it in all but deed.
How that nearness pulls us to action —
devouring loneliness,
always moving in it and with it,
a tear that pulls like a tide toward some true home:

in which to break bread,
in which to make,
in which to go gently
toward a mutual keeping of sleep.

Behind time,
behind time,
and ever behind time —

time that must be taken for so intricate a weave,
time that grows the value of what takes time to know.


11.15.16
(54/38)

flock of tree sparrows. juncos. shovelers. for a second, the sun behind the fog. other side of the marsh is the barest hint of dark gray shadow. something white, possibly a pelican. 5 geese. little bluestem and indiangrass still brilliant in sheltered places. everything close seems, somehow, more present.
the eating of poison. how that resonates in a cascading series of ways, probably more than how it was meant, but then we are what we are.
absurd darkness.
it was a red shirt in the dream. insensible shoes and rain. and the river. the rest lost in the appropriate fog.
bluebird in the high meadow. 1 goldfinch. another big flock of tree sparrows.
the walking women all together today, instead of in their usual twos and threes. how i wish i knew the language. how their apprehension makes me sad.
plenty of mallards in the pond. kingfisher. heron. yellow maple and caramel oak leaves, almost done but still making a scene, with the understory still green and fading, punctuated by red berries and chickadees.
namaste.
pelican. shovelers. grebes. mallards and one black duck.

11.16.16
(60/40)

2 geese on the marsh, which is frozen today, though i expect it will thaw as the sun gets higher. shovelers on the pond, which is not frozen at all, not even at the edges. still frost in shady spots. mallards on the river.


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 11.8-11.16

Wrong-Footed

Trying to escape catatonia —
afraid to pick up speed and storm:

how wrath always rises with the wind,
fills the sail to send,

how it is all beyond the animal,
the machine,

how it makes us tremble.

And you know what comes,
after.

The leaves are falling fast now,
but it is all so far beyond us.
Cultivate faith in the sun
and how it counters the sadness
of seeds in the wind,

how it confounds what grows dark inside us.


11.8.16
(62/49)

sunny! windy! it is november and there are still singing bugs. tree sparrow. (winter resident returned) 10 pelicans. 2 herons. 1 egret. big flock of grebes. how sometimes naming is the only thing to hold to. naming, and solitary, slow movement. shovelers. sunlight vs. wind. tops of the indiangrass catching both. leaf smell. white crowned sparrow. orange sulphur. then two, dancing.
after so many years of trying to be understood, when do you stop?
another sulphur. fast in the wind on the high prairie. so little to see today, relatively, but still, the walking is the only thing that doesn’t feel wrong.

11.10.16
(63/41)

9 pelicans. shovelers. buffleheads! 1 heron. we set the clocks back this week, twice*. it’s hard to adjust to the gathering dark. it takes a minute to start a fire. and the world is a lot more than our petty measurement. savor the slow decline. nothing is ever in one place for long. now of the river.** red tailed hawk. sulphur. cardinals. white crowned sparrow. kingfisher chattering in loops around the pond and river. 5 mallards with 3 black ducks.

11.11.16
(50/38)

1st flock of sandhill cranes. troubled by troubling.

Notes:
*This is surely a reference to the 2016 presidential election.
**A reference to
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse


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 11.3.16

Circe’s Will

What I would give for Circe’s hard heart
as she covers the waterfront,
watching the fog,
weaving a web to snare her sailor,
yet to find a story’s end.

‘I wanna be mesmerizing too.’

A mirror maze,
a beast unveiled —
her need so precise,
no deviation can satisfy.
Shedding one thousand shadows —
breathing beauty into the barren.

Unbound!

She might feed them for a season –
but knows how to bind is to break.

When the water lifts the unnamed lonely boat
and carries it on a diminishing tide,

she unweaves the woven —
sends them back to the loneliest ocean.


11.3.16
(67/48)

50 degrees. sun’s trying to work on the fog but failing so far. flock of … juncos already? yes. fox sparrow too.
who are our heroes of introversion?
deer. orange and yellow flame trees in the fog. it makes for a sense of unreality. magic. heartsore. just there. little bluestem in full color. just when you thought the grass was done. bluejay. 3 curious cardinals. purple finch. song sparrow. white throated sparrows. heron flyover – real low. flicker. Oh! a buck right out of the sumac. wow! clockwork. everything in its way, like clockwork. softness of moss. cardinals and juncos. mallards on the river. sharp shinned hawk. 9 pelicans. green heron. grebe. sandhill crane. 2 little red dragonflies and one sulphur.

Notes:
Quote 1: (mesmerizing): Liz Phair / ‘Mesmerizing’ from Exile in Guyville (1993)


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 11.1.16

Maelstrom

Oh watch! —

how we preach patience without practice.
Such a hard-heeled turn takes time —

a moon —
a season —
a tide —

and still your boat might end in their reach.

But if you can endure long enough,
you might find the sirens possessed
of more voices than you’d imagined.

Go ahead.
Be afraid.
Be monstrous!

Don’t ever forget the depths from which those musics are made.

And if you can withstand their embrace,
maybe in time,
before it passes on ahead,
you earn it —
this gift of learning love’s subtlety.


11.1.16
(75/60)

warm! sunny and warm! ‘here just a while’ what a blessing of a day. a sundog at the heart of a cloud shaped like a swallow in flight. oak leaves catching the light like whiskey and red wine. the moon’s just turned and I guess so will we. A butterfly. orange sulphur. 2 blue herons. blue-winged teals. and geese of course. and I wonder, did i get tumbled down the well to force the siren song? but I feel the shift. gods. gonna have to tie my flannel ’round my waist. keep an eye out for snakes. flock of blackbirds by the cattails.
maybe sweet takes the edge of regret’s bitter in time?
another sulphur. and another, lighter one. I hear a bluebird just as I hear…
such things must be meant. no devilish work.
the birds are quiet. lullaby cadence of still-singing bugs. the end of the end of the song. sweet in decline.
investigate doorways, and the magic thereof. the gods of. all their Superstitions. the holy threshold.
coyotes howling at sirens. another sulphur. frog singing. another sulphur. ‘…and the darkness still has work to do.’ And I’m not so dull as to not understand how much easier it just became. to right the ship. and what that means. All the repercussive thoughts that go along with that.
How it is still impossible.
How we wreck and end at different depths.
And another sulphur could pass for a yellow leaf fallen. scare a bunch of frogs at the pond. how many kinds of water walkers are there? geese come in by their hundreds — jubilant or keening? About a dozen pelicans still on the water.

Notes:
Quote 1: (a while): Beth Orton / ‘Pass In Time’ from Central Reservation (1999)
Quote 2: (darkness): Peter Gabriel / ‘Blood of Eden’ from Us (1992)


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 10.27.16

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)