Saturday, August 12, 2006


It was Sunday morning, but I was in a bird, not a church sanctuary. The air was hot and still over the marsh boardwalk at Broadmoor. Since my last visit, the water had grown a confluent, green skin, a rich, colloidal slurry of duckweed and other small, floating plants. Like a lid, it added to the stillness.

Arrow arum, cattails, water lilies, pickerelweed

and loosestrife stood motionless above the surface, all frozen within the white noise of cicadas.

Kneeling on warm wood, I peered over the edge of the boardwalk. Green hearts, half swallowed in green, floated on the water

and a few fat, yellow flowers -- bull lilies -- canted a few inches above the surface face to face with their shadows.

This is the essence of August, I thought: this heaviness, this stillness, this containment, this immersion. My own shadow knobbed the green opacity a few feet below. I was a thwarted narcissus; the marsh was doing more to undermine my ego than a lifetime of meditation. We breathed toward each other's mouths; a dragonfly hung in the mixed atmosphere between.

This was the time of abundance. If spring had been the measured entrances of strings, then winds, then a horn or two, this was the full orchestra, a cadence chord played at sostenuto for so long the desire for the tonic resolution becomes unbearable.

I felt fragments of Hart Crane trying to break the thick surface of my memory -- adagios of islands, wind flaking sapphire the seething, steady leveling of the marshes, the silken, skilled transmemberment of song -- all those gorgeous, latinate river and ocean voyages

toward watery death.

Was this the valley of the 23rd psalm ? Were these the shadowy waters with which my cup was running over

and beside which I was being led ?

From across the marsh came a harshly bowed interval, a tritone, the devil's interval, then a second, antiphonal, then silence.

This was the fully drawn inbreath.

This was pinnacle moment of repose

before the long collapse toward winter.

World without end, I muttered, and headed toward the woods.

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