Friday, September 21, 2012

Scattered Backward

The very lighthouse...
During a recent morning drive, I glanced over and caught just a quick glimpse of a set steps -- only two of them -- set into the edge of a green lawn, facing the road. They were concrete and they were older; deeply gray and weathered. There was a trace of a stone path leading up onto the lawn, but it was mostly covered over with grass. There had been a house there, once, long ago -- full of living people trying to make the best of their lives, but now it was just a well-kept lawn.

That kind of thing give me a physical feeling of loss, like a little hole in my chest.

Years ago, while in Dover, England, I remember placing my hand up against the outer wall of a Roman lighthouse, the Pharos. I imagined the hands of the builders and I saw images of legionnaires leaning again the outside, making crude jokes or dreaming of heading home over the channel's waters. 

That same feeling -- "loss" is the best I can do.

In Grasmere, In England's Lake district, I once stood in Dove Cottage. I saw what, according to the guide, had been Coleridge's favorite couch. It was well worn -- presumably by the legendary genius's legendary rump. Later, when the guide showed us the fireplace "where Dorothy would make the tea, with this very kettle," I actually felt a little dizzy, as the image of her leaning over to place the kettle on its hanger hit me like a late-summer breaker. 

Poor Coleridge.
Again, it was like some arm from the past, as in the other cases, had reached in and scooped out a little of my soul. But it was like they were taking something I was more than willing to give -- the way it feels when I give the last delicious cookie (the one I had been looking forward to all day) to one of my sons. It feels right. It is more satisfying than having eaten the treat. 

Maybe it is a kind of Tao, this feeling I have. I like to think the hand that scoops out little teaspoons full of me is taking them back to scatter them, like seeds, into the fields of the past, at the feet of everyday folk, Romans and the poets of Nature. 

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