I listen and look
under the sun's brass and even
into the moonlight, but I can't hear
anything, I can't see anything —
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green
stalks muscling up,
nor the leaves
deepening their damp pleats,
nor the tassels making,
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker —
green gowns lofting up in the night,
showered with silk.
And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing —
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves,
the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet —
all of it
beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.
And, therefore, let the immeasurable come.
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees,
and the mystery hidden in the dirt
swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body
is sure to be there.
Mary Oliver — Little Summer Poem Touching The Subject Of Faith
When I was young, I was supposed to nap in the afternoon. I think this had something to do with my parents' need to take a break in the heat of the afternoon. We spent our summers living in tents, in some woods above a lake. I have an full body memory that goes like this:
I am lying on top of my sleeping bag, on the ground. The hot canvas above my face radiates heat to my body. It's a dry, sleepy heat. If I lie still enough, I don't feel hot, just warmed. In the distance, up the hill, I hear a buzz rising. It sweeps through the treetops towards me, getting louder and louder, until it overwhelms everything else. And then it passes on down the hill, fading back into the heat of the afternoon. The woods are never totally silent. but after the drone of the locusts passes, the silence is almost deafening. And then it happens again. And again. It is the salient feature, the body experience of an afternoon nap in the heat of July in the woods, above the lake.
Even today, I can take myself right back to that eternal moment of nearly 50 years ago. For me, it says “summer.” I am reminded of a simpler time, when the only thing that mattered was getting down to the lake after nap time, and dashing into the cold water. Today, this poem took me back, and I spent some time just being, not doing, in the heat of the summer, with the illusory locusts singing loudly above me.
A meditation for August 25, 2013.
The incomparable Ella Fitzgerald sings “Summertime”