Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the shape of revelation

Here in this bright summer
world of blackberries and river,
a green tumble of sweetness
breathes into a beginning.
Anything can bear
the shape of revelation:
if you listen, the recklessness
of paradise confesses
how it has dreamed your truth,
and you will be ravished by
its wild and happy

©Laura Sorrells 2012
all rights reserved

Thursday, June 14, 2012

the secret names of things

There are not names for many things, perhaps most. I make up names for how things look, when they change, how they fade, what their connections are to each other. The names just come to me, mostly, though sometimes I give them thought and planning. I sometimes consult books too, but mostly to find out what names have already been used. I have forgotten when I chose to name light that shines through spiderwebs at night “silklumen.” I think it was two summers ago, when a big garden spider who had made her web stretch across the eastern corner of my deck captured an errant flying cicada. I don’t know why the name wasn’t fiercer, more violent. The event was certainly intense, and the mostly artificial light I saw it under made it seem sharper and more calculated. Still, now when I see light through spiderwebs under any conditions the light carries that name for me.
I named the suspected but unconfirmed sound of tiny mousefeet in my kitchen on a winter night “skitterpaws.” I really did not want there to be mice in my kitchen. There were, though. I tried to make them leave without killing them. Eventually they did. In the meantime, this name did not make me less anxious about their presence. In retrospect, I wish I’d chosen something more abstract, less creaturely.
Last night I tried to name the recurrent experience of nearly crashing into a whitetail deer (sometimes a whole bunch of them, together) while I am out for a run. Nothing seemed to fit. This happens fairly often. I lose myself in my music or in the way the sky or trees look and suddenly this tawny flank and flashing banner of white haunch and tail blazes across Old Cove Road in front of me. No matter how frequently this occurs, the sight of the deer always makes my heart beat faster with exhilaration and joy. It always feels like a blessing, like a nod from the holy ancestral body of the forest. I know the deer population is out of control but I still feel called into conspiratorial beauty when I see them.
Mysterious ripples in ponds, probably caused by jumping frogs or fish, are called leapshadows.
The noisy, raucous phenomenon of a redtail hawk being harassed by crows (usually three, though not always) is called cawclobber. Really.
The area next to shore where cypress knees push out from under water into air is called the kneeshallows.
The phenomenon of dragonflies flying away when I first approach them but then coming closer and lighting either near me or actually on my body (usually my feet but once or twice my knee or ankle) is called snakedoctorsettle.
The mist rising off the headwaters of a busy mountain creek or river is called streamsoul.
I am still trying to decide what to name the way a bald eagle looks flying away from the side of the road as I drive past in my truck. I don’t think there are any words wild and strange enough for it in the language I know.
The mysterious grottoes in the forest below my house are called foxhollows. It sounds a bit too genteel, but I can’t seem to think of them as anything else. They are deep and green, and they sometimes have running water down in them, just past seeing. They seem bottomless and tricky. Really they are small caves, and they do open shyly into the body of the mountainous earth. Roots curl around and above them but they are not defined by trees. I have the feeling that if I look at them right they will show me something important, something mysterious and ineffable. That feeling comes other times too but not often. It has come when I’ve seen the eerie flicker of foxfire in a swamp and when black bear raises her snout and snuffs the air that we are both sharing and smelling. When coyote yips like a petulant child in the hills. It came one night at a place where two rivers flow together; I was awakened from sleep by the loud sharp slap of sound on water. Beavers, I was told the next day. The energy of it had a quality of singular deliberate familiarity. Palpable in the moonlight of three a.m. The feeling is one that really disavows language as we know it altogether. It stands aside from that and is more about the way things smell, the way they might taste if we could know them that way. The colors they are about to show us but fall just shy of letting us see.
©Laura Sorrells 2012
all rights reserved

Monday, June 11, 2012

tell me a time

Gray: The ash is blowing towards the restaurant.
Maureen: Not any fire? Just ashes?
G: I guess. I don't know what blowing fire would look like.
M: Wouldn't there just be tongues of licking flame?
G: Well people always talk about tongues of flame. There's something Pentecostal about it. But fire does seem alive, doesn't it?
M: Yes. (Pauses.) I think it might be. Even the embers.
G: Even when you can't see any more flame through the smoke?
M: Sure.
G: Did you say you worked around here?
M: Yes. I work at the cafe just down the street, on the corner of Cobb and Sullivan.
G: Maxine's?
M: That's it. I don't think I've seen you in there. (Pauses and gazes intently at the fire.) Wow. This house has a balcony on the third story. 
G: The fire's not there yet.
M: I should go home and sleep. But this fire will keep me awake. Kind of a holographic imprint. Only with sound. Not a memory. More immediate. Bigger. More present. Do you ever get that?
G: Not quite.
M: Quite?
G: I have a kind of synesthesia that happens when I'm working sometimes. Usually it's strongest around the big cats. That sad old king with the tattered mane. Then sometimes with the lemurs. Don't ask me why.
M: Because they're so noisy?
G: (Chuckles.) I don't think so. But maybe.
M: What else?
G: The wolves.
M: (Softly but eagerly) I can see that. Kind of. Tell me something. Tell me a time.
G: With the wolves?
M: Yes. With the wolves.
G: (Takes a deep breath and rubs his eyes.) This was last week. These wolves are getting old. Their attachment to each other is almost (pauses again).....palpable. They don't have the territory to heal when they need to. So things just hang around in this air.....(Sweeps an arm towards the entrance to the zoo, down the street.) 
M: Go on. 
G: So, they bay and yip and howl during the day, now. Midmorning, midafternoon. There doesn't seem to be a pattern to it. I've paid very close attention and it seems to happen independently of anything I can see. So last week this big male was loping across the grass towards the edge, the fence, where the hidden gate is. I could see his fur through flashing through the leaves. He knew I was watching him. He ran right up to the gate. Like he could go through it or it wasn't there. Then he skidded to a stop. Very undignified and very unlike him. He didn't know what to do with himself, after that. I felt embarrassed and sad for him. I went the other way. 
M: Wow.
G: I know. You know what's really odd, though? Not what happened but how I received it. How it (pauses) registered with me. (Glances at her as if to make sure she is following him.)
M: Please. Tell me the rest.
G: Well, it isn't a story. Just how.....well, it was like I heard him running. He wasn't making any noise, but it seemed like I could hear the air around him moving aside. Or something. Not his footfall, you understand. But the air itself. Like it was alive and trying to give him room. Moving aside for him....

I wrote this in response to a dialogue exercise a couple of summers ago and tweaked it a bit just now as I typed. The prompt read "A zookeeper talks to a waitress at a house fire." I named the zookeeper Gray and the waitress Maureen. I may do something more with this. I didn't come to a satisfactory stopping place.

©Laura Sorrells 2012
all rights reserved

Saturday, June 9, 2012

the air in a garden

All the shy green fire
of your vulnerable knowing
hums like the immaculate
havoc of God
in a field of light
and silence.

The seeds of a restless
delight are
remembering how
to love the world.

Your beginning
is enough,
imperishable and
a lion gentled
by the air
in a garden.

--©Laura Sorrells 2012
all rights reserved

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Slowly, a new Medicine gathers
within the rumor of shift.
A confluence of hunter
and forest
is bringing me into
its honeyed abundance.
Stay here with me
in this breathing field
of tender audacity.
The edge of immensity
surrounds us,
expressive and kind
in the blossom of
its unfurling depth.

--lks 6/5/12

©Laura Sorrells 2012
all rights reserved

I put together this found poem from David Abram's book Becoming Animal, which I am still reading and rereading. This is part of what is more or less a series of such poems. They are pretty much love poems to God, for lack of a better description.

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About Me

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Georgia, United States
I live at the edge of the forest in a little town in the north Georgia mountains. I teach sixth grade Language Arts and am writing a memoir of sorts about family, spirituality, and narrative. I am also exploring a possible writing project having to do with contemporary lay contemplative experience and how it might be informed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism and an admirer of Pope Francis, Leonardo Boff, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. I'm a Lay Associate of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I am interested in indigenous cultures, narratives, and spirituality, especially how these can inform my spirituality as a lay contemplative. I write, read, take pictures, play around with creating ephemera from paper and cloth and other organic things. I cook, hike, watch wildlife, and collect random bits of interesting oddness, both tangible and abstract. I am a seer of smallness and a caretaker of ridiculous minutiae. If you want, e-mail me at riverrun67@gmail.com or lksorrells@hotmail.com.