> jumping into life.

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I want to know about the edges of things.

Rain is rain, rock is rock, mountain is mountain, river is river. Alive is alive and dead is dead. Right?

One week ago I stood in the rain with grave dirt on my shoes, on my hands. The pile of earth came nearly to eye-level, the shovels profane and ordinary. The dirt tumbled onto lacquered wood with unseemly noise. The dirt gritted under patent-leather shoes, dusted onto fur coats and slowly filled the grave. We each moved a shovelful. The dirt was on all our hands.

The rain falls equally on the live and the dead. It makes its way through the dirt, nosing past coffins, stones, roots, insects of a thousand sorts. It rises to the surface with the capillary tug of sun, is turned to leaves and fruit and mice and hawks, turned to corn and beef and people, is pulled back into the sky and made rain. All blood is rain.

I want to know about blood. I want to know how many cells need be parted before the red sea is loosed. The great slosh and tide of my body kept from the thirsty world by only some few layers of skin, a thin and pervious membrane, leaking at all points. I have borrowed this much rain, and will not keep it.

I want to know about rivers.
I want to find their edges; one end in the mountains and the other end in the sea. How many rivulets must join their flows before the cartographer lowers his pen for the long and winding line? I want to know where river becomes delta, where delta slips into bay, when the bay loses itself to the ocean wide. Those are the easy questions. One end in the mountains and one in the sea; and in between? Water seeps in from all sides, dipping in and out of sight, lost to roots and wells and aquifers along the way. The river sinks down to bedrock, spreads deep into the soil on either side. It is not bounded by its banks.

Everyone said: I spoke to her only yesterday, only last week, just last month she was up and about.

Alive is alive and dead is dead.

The microscope can barely find the edge between root hair and soil, between the questing mycorrhizal hyphae and the lithic sea of nutrient surrounding. The closer you look, the more the edges disappear. The rain is corn is beef is blood; the death of beef and corn and persimmons builds my body; the death of deer and worms builds grass and sparrows. The tree spins sugar from sunlight, exhales oxygen, digs its roots into the rot of a hundred thousand years.

The breath is not air, is not you.

Rain is river; river is root; root is earth; earth is stone; stone is mountain. Alive is alive and dead is dead.


"In the dream that life is, here is man, who finds his truths and loses them on this mortal earth, in order to return through wars, cries, the folly of justice and love, in short through pain, toward that tranquil land where death itself is a happy silence. Here still...Yes, nothing prevents one from dreaming, in the very hour of exile, since at least I know this, with sure and certain knowledge: a man's work is nothing but his slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened." --Albert Camus "Preface to 'Lyrical and Critical Essays'"

This is an extraordinary post, Kat. I don't think there are answers to the questions you pose, but so few people even ask them. I want to know too.

I agree with Beth, Kat. An extraordinary post, extraordinarily well said. Unlike Beth, I think there might be answers — but too many, and many superficially contradictory; most importantly, if there are answers (meaning profound answers, not mere responses), I'm pretty sure even if they could be understood they couldn't be articulated.

Rain, rock, mountain, river. These are some of the things that matter most to me. Life astonishes me; I can make as much sense of it as I can of death.

Thanks for this wonderful post, Kat.

Thank you for such thought-activating material. There is a remarkable book (also a short film) called 'Powers of Ten'(Philip and Phylis Morrison, and the Office of Charles and Ray Eames), which demonstrates the known universe in 42 powers of ten. This currently (or does it still?)spans the human limits of firm knowledge, from the point where entire galaxies appear as specks of dust, to the interior of the atom. To the untutored eye, the most distant reaches of outer space appear to look just like the interior of all of our own cells. And that goes for rivers and mountains as well. The connections are more profound than the mind can grasp.

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