I can't begrudge the litterer. I picture him or her trudging along the icy river path, inadequately shod, fretting about work or finances, children or lover, sick of the interminable winter, finding solace crunching through salty, unctuous blown corn. The gloved hand raises piece after piece to the chapped lips. The cheap, butter-like fume rises from tongue to nose, comforting, distracting from cold and worry. But, like life itself, it must end: the empty box with its bright, unnatural colors seems a mockery, a savage clown riffing on transience and absurdity. Fling it away, sad walker, and hurry home.
The winter world is pitiful, stripped, broken, decaying, cluttered with mounds of dirty snow. Regarding it, we surge with compassion. It rises, volcanic, in us. We slip and stagger on the ice under its impetus.
I gaze at a comely leaf, rising and falling in the wind. Heart-shaped and a delicate brown, it is dappled with tiny points of black mold.
Glory be to God for dappled things wrote the Jesuit poet, no stranger to dysphoria. Is this what he meant ? And what would he have made of the shadow of pi inscribed upon it ?
I confess: I love this stippling black mold. It is definite, even elegant, like a gentleman -- a dandy, a swell -- of the 1920's. The prospect of intimacy with it almost makes me rethink cremation. Almost.
Yes, I know. I'm reaching for something. I'm not even sure what. Some kind of solace ? I'll deny it, but I think it's true.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting ? cried the same Jesuit, later.
What solace lies beyond, outside the imagination ? Oh, if I could shut off the stream of words and wants, I might find it. The broad, original, generative solace. Where ? A there ? From here ? Bring one word for the journey -- love. Then ditch the journey, ditch the word.
To study the self is to forget the self.
But we live in a world of words. Of work, sadness, others, so many considerations. Cup after cup of coffee. Laundry to do. Cold, paint-stained hands. Forms and rectitudes. An undying ember of gratitude.
I realized, the other day, speaking of words, that I am a Trinitarian Universalist. This was a small insight, a little ridiculous, possibly heretical. But the discovery made me happy.
The wind rattles through the pods that remain on the trees, a skeletal sound, not unpleasant. Milestones streak by -- Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, my birthday -- and that cheap floozie, Valentine's Day hurtles, florid, toward us.
Beyond it, cold, still, and the color of ashes, lies Lent.
That's what I've been reaching for.