|Ewing Road, Whidbey Island|
My poem of the week:
Nature/Grace: Under the Influence
The cop pulled me over for erratic driving
Crossing over the center line
I wasn’t drinking or on the phone
I was writing a poem while steering
With one hand
It was a poem about the usual
Sin and suffering, love and death
Nature also and not just the bad kind
The one that is always trying to kill us
The nature of urges and yearning flesh
But the other nature too
While the cop was running my plates
I stopped work on the poem and began
Composing my defense
I lie, we all do, it’s how were wired
But I’m not a natural liar
And this story must be believable
Or it will cost me
It was the morning mist back lit by the rising sun
Threading through the tall firs
That caught my eye and
Compelled me to start writing
And then a coyote loped into the open field
Zig-Zagging after a rabbit or a vole
Using his nose more than his eyes
Following the path in the changing wind
I don’t think anyone will buy that story though
I may have to take what’s coming to me
Like the rabbit or the vole
I have regrets about how all this has worked out
And I'm sorry for my part in it all
Although there are others who should be sorrier
But if the truth
If any of what actually happened comes out
It could cost me more than I can pay
So I am willing to confess everything here
Hope for mercy and forgiveness
But if grace is not granted
If no one speaks up on my behalf
Then this story must be worth it
Even though it costs me everything
***I will go out of my way to drive on Ewing road to get to the Maxwellton valley and beach. That is the setting of this poem and where I took the photo above. This landscape along this road is quite remarkable and a bit peculiar to the island I think. A mixture of woods, wetlands, cow pasture, old barns and chicken sheds, silage and hay fields. There are always eagles and hawks patrolling the fields and estuaries. This landscape could be in a woody part of Northern Ireland, or at the base of the French Pyrenees, even northern Italy (perhaps parts of China too, but I’v never been there so I don’t know). The ‘Long farm’ is on the South-West side of the road. That’s where to buy organic beef bones if you’re wanting to make ‘beef bone broth,’ something I want to perfect as a base for Pho (the availability of good Pho-Saigon in the US is one of the few positive consequences of the Vietnam war).
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Mathew 6, 26).
“You can only romanticize nature for so long before something gets bludgeoned or eaten” (J.B. MacKinnon).
***Perhaps the same goes for the ‘Cities of Men’ too? Still, “nature” is a very problematic concept, but then what isn’t? Right now I’m looking out my picture windows at the pleasant sight of some big grey squirrels, smaller native brown squirrels and even one of the new, wee, baby chipmunks all peacefully munching on the bird food I put out for them and the birds. Near me is my quite wild Siberian Husky named Tehya glaring hungrily at all the tasty and vulnerable wildlife just on the other side of the glass. Now I’m almost sure that Tehya loves me, but if I was only about a foot tall and she looked at me the same way she looks at those squirrels I think the algorithms that sustain the balance of power in our master/pet dialectic might be insufficient to sustain our current relationship. Meanwhile the big ferrel cat that roams through our neighborhood and probably some coyotes are biding their time just behind the tree line. Overhead eagles lethally glide casting swift threatening shadows. Any rats wisely wait in the ferns for darkness to make their move. As the food in the feeders diminishes tensions grow among all these adorable bushy-tailed critters. I’m hoping to get to the store by tomorrow, but if the bird food runs out before then things could get bloody.
***Interestingly, buying wild bird seed raises one’s credit rating. I heard a report claiming that credit card companies track all of our purchases and rate our credit worthiness according to what we buy. I reckon they figure that folks that feed wild birds are kindhearted and altruistic and more likely to honor their contracts and pay their bills on time. Of course, it also suggests that those that buy wild bird seed also have homes, mortgages, jobs, and are already deeply insinuated into the ideologies of commodity capitalism and have interpolated the precepts of virtuous consumption and monetary atonement. I suspect that some of the people that feed wild birds do so as a substitute for any sort of meaningful resistance to a dehumanizing and unjust economic system.
***What say we end this post by lightening things up with a little humor? Here’s an old joke form the days of the Soviet Union:
Khrushchev was giving a speech denouncing the cult of personality around Stalin.
‘Atrocious crimes took place under Comrade Stalin,’ he said. ‘Many innocent people suffered and there were terrible breaches of socialist legality.’
‘And where were you when all this was going on?‘ A voice from the back asked accusingly.
‘Who said that?’ snapped Khrushchev. And then there was dead silence in the room and you could hear a pin drop.
Khrushchev nodded and said: ‘That’s where I was.‘