The generous, blinding swell

Hello you fellow fibers in the wind. I had a dream the other night that I was flying over a rolling field at dusk like a milkweed seed on the breeze. When I woke the ground was covered with a fresh layer of golden leaves. Here we are under the full moon, at Samhain, with a strange time behind us and an unquestionably strange time ahead. Nice to be with you in it.

Since I finished the palm to stone triptych last month, I have returned to each of the three stones for a visit. The stones are now inextricably linked in my imagination, and when I look at a map of the peninsula I can’t help but see superimposed the thin obtuse triangle they describe over land and water. It’s a mark made by human choices, for sure, but not all mine. The triangle may well be an arbitrary slice through settler colonialism here, but the stones persist in all dilating dimensions beyond that thinning plane. On the moraine just back from the brink, the dolomite erratic rests in the till, waiting these October days for arctic bunting and owl to bring their delicate tundral palette back to the dunes. Marram blades rattle nearby in the wind. At the mouth of the river to the northeast, across two deep semicircular bays lies the boulder of slag, passed by the last few masked tourists looking at their phones as they cross the parking lot for the public toilets. Behind them the green river pushes ceaselessly between replica fishing shanties out toward the blue water beyond the riprap. And to the southwest, up a valley from the deep spring-fed lake cooling beneath the moon’s icy disc, rests the granite erratic, elephantine, half-buried, its sharp crystal gilded for now with gold leaf. I imagine the stone waits there for the return of its stolen part, or instead perhaps for glacier, that great telluric messiah, to reappear one bright morning on the northern horizon to carry it on.

But for now, here at the crest of autumn, leaves let loose one by one from twigs, the water grows colder by the night and owl and bunting will soon return from the arctic. There is always returning, at all scales, and our present ascent up the next generous, blinding swell of winter reminds us of what we may have forgotten, but stone remembers.

A black and white composite photograph of a rough granite surface in front of a dappled, out-of-focus background. The photograph is copied three times and rotated so the straight edges of stone form a thin obtuse triangle identical to the one described in the text.

I wrote the three palm to stone essays as a triptych, like I said, which I’ll publish together in paper form this winter (or thereabouts) as a pamphlet. To accompany the essays I have seven poems in the works, which I can’t wait to share. They anticipate the dark cold we’re moving toward in a way I find exciting. I’ll lift a few lines to include here without context:

Water solves, waves give then take,
and in the rise and fall
memory is pumped
onto thirsty earth

So yes; rising water, deposition, erosion, memory — images and themes we’ve been mulling in these letters for some time, and will no doubt continue to mull. How could we not? Rising water, I believe, is to our time what the flying saucer was to the Atomic Age. Shall we continue to explore what that might mean? Until next month, I wish you safety and equanimity.

Leelanau Peninsula, Samhain 2020