fieldnotes 2.14.17

The Saint’s Purgatory

This is how to tend the holy arrow.
I played your song and never said,
in that favorite pantomime winter,
on guard against the complacent —

a dark and accidental devotion.

Bent my shadowed eye on your knee,
and I can’t even tell you.
How the thought leaps.

You put your hands in the dirt and cut into my ground,
sullen —
a contrived silence that forces the river into a channel.

And green things already appear here.
How are such things meant?

I am all rusted nails and fertile field.
And what are you?

I was not carved, nor sculpted, nor crafted for genuflection,
but if I could make one prayer to that heart-eating saint,
I would beg that some truly golden species of feast
might grow for you too.



2.14.17

(50/31)

cardinal. big red heart. robins and robins in the sun. these unnecessary underthings. noisy bluebirds, a rarity. one year, early sustained warmth led to a double brood. every year has its bounties. redtailed hawk. all these passing people. chickadees. HEE-hee. breakdown always just the other side of some paper-thin membrane. tender. dangerous. dangerous. keep it always in the corner of one eye. but carry on. and carry on. ‘deep into his fiery heart’ i know, i know. not a happy ending. goldfinches. song sparrows. bluebirds. nuthatch. gulls by the pond. chickadees at the northern edge. robins. canada geese. and someone is noisily cutting trees. ‘don’t say it’s useless and don’t say forget it.’ and thank you for the inadvertent lesson. other side. couple of mallards. the noise has scared all the other ducks away. complicated moss. angles of frozen water that mark the mud. redbellied woodpecker. crow in that tree. don’t forget to laugh at yourself. and now here is my car, so i must make my heart small again.


Notes:
Quote 1: (‘fiery heart’): Leonard Cohen / ‘Joan of Arc’ from Songs of Love and Hate (1971)
Quote 2: (“forget it”): Mazzy Star / ‘Be My Angel’ from She Hangs Brightly 1990


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 2.9.17

Stoking

Out of the cold or into it,
it is a precious thing to hold.
And so we must live with hunger for a while —
a fasting season.

Was it nature or nurture went awry?

I need sweet so sing something sweet.
If you can, so can I.
And I can, so can you.

My fire was down to embers,
but I still have the breath to make it roar.



2.9.17

(24/13)

chickadees. cold. sunny and crisp. lots of geese. mallards. two kingfishers. chasing and chattering. black ducks.


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 2.7.17

Rainy Inkdrops

(everything still wet from last night’s howl and i might be courting rain again)

Indeed:
15 silent mourning doves top a tree,
warmish wet and foggy,
old-fashioned-new-shoes eclipse,
blue jay, redtailed hawk, crows —
gloomyday birds.

Unspoken almost spoken:
the rain’s coming, soon.
Truly now the air grows dense with it.
How those same words get me in the gut again and again.
You know the ones.
The ones that repeat the dream.
Alone.
Home.

And anyway,
I don’t think we’ve said all the things we need to say yet.
Or yet tread right out onto the high wire of open sky.
(Every time we start it rains.)

Press on into a warm and weirdish winter.
The grass can’t see the season —
looks fall and smells spring —
and the wild blue thorns bleed us as we run into the woods,
coyotes wailing at the 10am tuesday siren.
They sound close and many,
and the alarm goes on too long.
Their relative strength, daunting.

(into the much. goldeneyes on the pond. mergansers, kingfisher, mallards, sparrows, chickadees, cardinals, canada geese. birds all by the river where it feels like spring.)



2.7.17

(50/32)


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)

unnamed

January 2018

You said to let it happen,
so I wait for the dream to keep finding me
in the teasing of a winter that doesn’t know how to be.

It is still,
mostly,
dark.

Outside the holy door,
garden gate,
and inside the temple,
human renovations in our holy hands:
hearth to head,
bone and blood.

You said it and I wrote it down,

and I remembered:
knees,
then forehead to the dirt.
We hope we know better now.

We must walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait —

make our Reverence at its threshold

(but not before we get there)

and Breathe

(and breathe).

I busy my hands with what’s in them,
perhaps to sing something new into the world,
kneel in the wind,
kneel to the moon,
and pray your hands are busy, too.

fieldnotes 2.5.17

Burnt

‘…if you want me to burn…’

Taciturn and tempted,
this silence requires spaciousness,
and even walking is an act of rebellion.

I bury my mouth and its words in the dirt,
here in the low, wet, thawed places.

You must always carry these:
matches, paper, ink, long eyes, blood, bone, stone,
and those thin woven threads that reach out into it
and beyond and back to you again —

how a bluebird is first again,
how what remains unspoken
doesn’t remain unknown.

Even as the sun
watches you kneel by the river,
folding words into a boat to sail downstream.
Even as the moon
(sleepy eyes)
sees you press words into a crane to cast into the fire.

Look at him.
High in the cold face of the wind.
How he turns into it and,
jubilant in his melancholy,
makes a music.



2.5.17

(38/25)

‘you’re still hanging out in my dreams’
and indeed, though windy and colder than expected, a bluebird is first. an overlook flock. do they move again in the spring? possibly. the swallows might drive them away. little jerks. coyote scat. heard a woodpecker of some sort, but too bright to see. and I still have a headache if I stop and think about it. I hear a robin now too, and here’s a redtailed hawk. is a day when everything draws the attention to just one more thing. voice along the thread, in the wind. i’ll leave the bad head behind. oh, how i adore you, my Sun. mesmerized. how we can never find it. moon doing its waxing thing again. home. i suppose overcoming inertia — or succumbing utterly — must be at least a step in that direction. parasitic plants. robins in the mixing bowl. song sparrows. crows at the top of the hill. find a quarter and remember the lesson: how it is wrong to turn your back on wealth offered by the gods. mallards, hunkered out of the wind. kingfisher. more mallards. canada geese. the mergansers — 2 male, 3 female. noisy noisy geese.

Notes:
Quotes: (‘burn’ and ‘hanging out’): Nick Cave + the Bad Seeds / ‘Give Us a Kiss’ from Give Us a Kiss (EP, 2014)


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 1.31-2.2.17

Worry

Walking off worry —
close kestrel encounter,
chickadees alarmed —
we are mutually watchful.

All of us.

And we balance the tears of our watching against the wind.
Try not to be afraid.
Accept that the gods are no good.

Make the rhythm of bootheels on a semi-frozen path
a part of winter’s song.

Here,
we are neither hunted,
nor haunted.



1.31.17

(39/35)

a mink at the inlet. everything needs some empty space to expand into. robin in the hedgerow. redtailed hawk, looking southward. mixed flock of robins and goldfinches. 7 gulls in strange display. centering, somehow. windy toward the north end. mallards dining in the mud by the river. belted kingfisher.


2.1.17

(37/21)

bluebirds at the south overlook. redtailed hawk. kestrel. kingfisher. mallards. and another kingfisher. merganser.


2.2.17

(23/14)

bluebird worships the sun with quiet, shy hellos. everything catches light. sharp-edged reminders of freeze-thaw at the edge of blue ice. welcome it. all of it. adore its latent yet swelling strength. remember how it feels to let it in. 3 robins, high in flight. harder to see birds when it’s sunny, especially in winter. you’re looking into it too much. redtailed hawk. goldfinch. little flock of song sparrows. sun’s growing strength becomes tangible. robins singing, even now. the Value of robins in winter. passing an old nest in a tree right by the trail, wondering how many times i passed and never knew. gulls again? 4 mergansers. canada geese. blue heron on the river. mallards. cardinal. nuthatches.


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 1.26.17

Negative Space

Let us make a devotion to this darkness.
One faith matters now —
if only one could place it in humanity.
Are the birds all in hiding?
Are they coming for us soon?
You can’t will an angel into being,
so let the devil rake it in.
You cannot pray away your shadowed eye,
and you can’t call yourself a True Believer
if you’re not as willing as Job
to endure it.



1.26.17

(34/30)

juncos and song sparrows. bit of snowdust. brighter today. inside, i mean. this territory of resignation is difficult to navigate. continual silence begging to be broken. chickadee. kill them with kindness. can i not lose myself in it? little flock of goldfinches on the hill coming down to the pond. buffleheads on the pond. coopers hawk. mallard. another bufflehead, in flight. big flock of mallards in the riverbend, and canada geese.

It seems petty, and inconsistent, for a supposedly benevolent god to test a man so.


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 1.24.17

Resentment Blues

Don’t look contradiction straight in the eye.
Too late, become stone.
Wrap gray around you like a blanket.
Focus on the words.
Focus on that melody fading.
Focus on your hands in warm soapy water.
Focus on these tiny vengeances.
Pretend there is no knife in your hand.



1.24.17

(38/34)

whole little flock of song sparrows weaving in and out of the prairie plants. dozen or so and a cardinal. otherwise it’s almost still. quiet. ‘then you let your love abound and you bring me to my knees.’ goldfinches. robins hunkered down among the oaks. making Room. a little chaos a good sign. things you never talk about. dangerous territory to avoid. so. stew of resentment. bluejays. things you see so often you take them for granted. good to use the binos and really see them. silence a coin with two sides, standing on edge. it’d be nice now to come across some old coneflower… rub the seeds and smell summer again… goldfinch. canada geese and mallards in the river. cardinal. kingfisher heard. scolding a hawk. there he is, on a dead branch over the river. scolding me, now.

Notes:
Quote: (abound): Fiona Apple / ‘Shadowboxer’ from Tidal (1996)


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 1.19.17

Stone and Jar

When do we cross that line —
when, instead of endings,
winter teases us with beginnings?
A bare sense of sky pushes against the gray,
and hundreds of robins mix with juncos, bluebirds and goldfinches.
And I harbor the healing,
but know deep in bone and blood,
a fever lies in wait.

It is as though your fingers have closed upon something once harvested
that sits in a jar on your highest shelf,
as you contemplate an indulgence,
put pressure on the lid.

And I am the loneliest in a crowd of bootprints,
making the prairie a part of myself,
and myself a part of the prairie,
running my thumb along the stone’s edge again.

How can we be so in and out of time at once?

Standing in the bent cattails overlooking the gray ice of the marsh,
we measure this weight: stone and jar.


11.19.17
(42/31)

an old metaphor comes to call. the sun is trying today. feels like maybe it’ll break the clouds any minute, but it doesn’t. another flock of robins with some regulars mixed in. the prairie at a distance: browns, grays, tans and copper reds. another flock of robins at the inlet. song sparrows. juncos. cardinal. singing chickadees. geese and geese, I hear a goldfinch. and yet another flock of robins in the mixing bowl. some goldfinches that already look at bit yellower than they were. a song sparrow. robins taking baths. busy busy robins. sharp shinned hawk. i hear nuthatches. gull of some sort. big flock of starlings. river still high but settled. chickadees. mallards. redtailed hawk. juncos. flicker. merganser! big flock of robins and very curious goldfinches. they seem playful today. juncos. cardinal with a scar, high on the left side of his breast.


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 1.17.17

thank you

The meanings are stretched
until we no longer know how to define what we are,
another shattered shackle,
in its way.

The grass is still green,
the season’s tether loosening.
And it is raining on my feet.

The bluebirds meet me here and we make offerings of smoke and sky
to cold’s long decline
(it’s coming)
and to these things we can’t define.

Flex against the rope.
Tell the truth and let your blood rise like the water —
to fill but not to flood.
We are so much more in that fullness
than some simple shadow play.

And,
trusting you not to look too directly,
I can acknowledge this:

It is everything to me.

Not how you make me feel,
but how you are
(and long have been)
the cause of feeling.

(Our reasons are small, simple things.)

So, fill your lungs with January,
in all its identity crisis.
Oh, fickle winter.

Let’s make a study of fight and flight.
We might name the seasons whatever we want,
in love with suspended tension,
how a robin’s song in winter is anything but modest or mundane,
how it refuses to allow constraints on the indefinite.



1.17.17

(38/35)

nuthatch. bluebirds. goldfinches. chickadees. lots of flocking today. big flock of robins by the path out. and starlings. downy woodpecker. juncos and more goldfinches. hundreds of robins. how their song fills the winter silence. all the ways we measure time’s passing. cardinal (f). bluejay. curiouser chickadees. the water at the inlet high and fast (song sparrows). busy, busy brain. how everything is tangential. the robins follow, all along the south end. another cardinal. 6 canada geese fly over. milkweed pod shadows look like little birds. fox sparrow. cardinal.
(Identifying sparrows gets easier, I think, when you visit the same place regularly. You come to understand their habits, their seasons and timing.)
redtailed hawk coasting the treeline. V of geese. what are those blue thorns? more goldfinches. aha! muckity muck! reflections of trees in big mucky puddles. stomp stomp. is moss greener in winter? lichens and little round ledges of fungus. we are all eating each other. bluebird. another big flock of robins. singing. blue heron. water is high. chickadees. mallards. goldfinches. golden crowned kinglets. another blue heron. granddaddy on his river. bluejay.


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)