We have reached that moment in the summer course where the students are writing their final papers, which creates a tiny lull while we wait to see what they'll create if we just leave them alone for a few minutes. After weeks of having pushed so hard to craft class sessions and ever-deeper thoughts about Morrison, I have suddenly found myself a few minutes of quiet and un-stir. I spent part of that ease this evening drinking wine and talk on a lawn with my excellent novelist friend; by the end of our couple of hours, as I headed back toward home through the dark, I realized that my leg muscles were the slightest bit wavery, the slightest bit at sea, despite the strange solidity of everything summery around me, from the depth of the night to the layering of the lamplit leaves to the shiftiness of the gravel under my feet. I thought of the days and nights I breasted the dipping and beating of the sea against a boat, walking decks with traveling companions in Greece and Turkey, and the dipping and beating of a train against the air, walking aisles first with traveling companions and then simply myself, all those years of train travel in this country and others. I thought of the days and nights I breasted the dipping and beating of incommensurable lives, walking the streets of every place I've lived, walking my way toward some kind of clear integrity.
The air tonight is not resistant, by any means; we have had thick-laden humid afternoons--today was one of them, almost--and heavy-hanging evenings, but tonight offered a swift-staying medium, an atmosphere that left me able to skim over the half-mile home from downtown with a particular graceful-feeling speed. Tonight I think I carry my own private nimbus of hope around with me, born of who knows what elements, aimed at who knows what target. My thoughts have done so much wandering over the past few weeks, and to feel them perhaps starting to circle back, to crystallize and clarify once again, to ring up around the places where my life's meanings live, is a small wonder and grace. I suspect that they are not done with the wandering, but would I want them to be? The trick is to have them wander freely but always return. The trick is to remember that the thing itself, the beauty itself, is something I made and then commenced gravitating to long ago; it is no finished thing, and in fact the beauty of its lineaments resides in its unfinishability, but it is a staff and a support, a framework, a worthy structure, a stateliness.
Clarity and integrity were my thoughts' refrains tonight.
The colors into which we're moving now, at midsummer, are somehow both bolder and more muted than our spring colors were. The lilies are orange (and occasionally white or ruby or lemony yellow), while the coneflowers (still green stars) that will bloom within days will bring a soberly ecstatic fuschia into the middle of town. The gravity of my joy and the joy of my gravity are most difficult to explain, even to myself, these days. For a long part of my walk home, my striding cast two shadows.
The rain has begun slapping beyond me, draining off some of the excess and strain of the cloud cover under which I walked out and back tonight. It is so insistent a thing, raucously itself. And the smell it raises is one of some and all things, of particulars traded and loved, of generalities feared and needed, of necessary meeting, of inevitable sunder.
In the new project, the one that arrived as an unbidden visitation yesterday, the first piece is "The Invisible Girl."
Expect more of these stars, and expect them blooming, as these days trace onward.