Friday, April 7, 2017

Feeling Alive...

The dead are always looking down on us, they say.
While we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
They are looking down from the glass bottom boats of heaven
As they row themselves slowly through eternity.

They watch the top of our heads moving below on earth.
And when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
Drugged perhaps by the hum of a long afternoon,
They think we are looking back at them,
Which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
And wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes. 
 - The Dead by Billy Collins

It is that time of year again.  Twilight cloud pile ups. All stars and lightning. Night spectacles of flash and glitter.  Soft mornings of bird song and gentle drizzle and dark soil and green. The smell of rain twirls on mischievous wind. The rains are few and far between in these parts. When they first arrive, they are furious, herding dust storms before them and tearing deep gashes in the parched, over grazed earth. Further north, in Kenya, there is terrible drought. We are so thankful for what we receive.

A few nights ago, I stood motionless in the dark courtyard, still as a statue in a midnight cemetery, witnessing the greatest light show on earth. Lightning cracked silver forks across the hills far away and overhead, a bowl of stars, glinting blue, green, red, silver, all fat and close.  The silver boned, articulate trees stood sentinel like over me, green fingers twisting starward, reaching for rain. From the dark, empty stables, I thought I heard the soft sigh of the dead appaloosa.

I glanced through the front door, into the clinking cutlery of domesticity of the little pink house on the hill and thought, "Perhaps this is what it feels like to be dead. Unseen. Invisible. Unnoticed but all seeing, watching the living carefully lay down cutlery, tools of the living."  The room was alive with warm light and small kindnesses. I watched my daughter, all slender and young, hopeful, carry a pot from the kitchen, throw her head back and laugh and I stepped out of the ridiculously beautiful night and into the light and love and arms and noise. And felt alive.

Kitchen Board

And it's still going Elizabeth! Unlike the blog, the kitchen board is far more resilient and on going. At least the list isn't that long. . . although I bet the next time I go into the kitchen, things like matches, peanut butter and tomatoes will have snuck on there...It really is never ending. At least some things are eternal.
Over and out, y'all and bisous X.X.X. great stormy ones, on yer neck. x j


Elizabeth said...

Lovely post and great Billy Collins poem to accompany it.
I hope what he imagines is true!
So glad you are getting some rain - and taking joy in it.
Love your horses.
I’m not blogging much.
World altogether too weird.
But do keep up the endless kitchen board.

donna baker said...

Janelle, in the midst of ongoing tragedy, your post is so beautiful. Love hearing from you.

Amanda Summer said...

I once sat in the middle of an open field watching a storm approach, lightning all around. Stupidity of youth, perhaps, but yet it did make me feel really alive…

Maybe being older now, we have the mileage to recognize such a moment as you describe so poignantly here - being on the outside, looking in, and seeing it as if for the first time -

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth indeed, the world is so weird but I think perhaps it always has been....Too many of us. And so greedy and dislocated. Lovely to hear from you! Thank you! X j
Amanda. Yes. I think we do have this other dimension when you are older. But I miss the freedom and lightness of being which youth allows! Thanks for commenting. Lovely to hear from you! x J

donna baker said...

Wanted to comment, but family crisis. So glad to hear of your posts again. Your blog was one of my favorite ones. The television show, Amazing Race, was recently shown in Zanzibar and Tanzania, and I thought of you. What beauty. I've been reading about Hermeticism and the phrase, As Above, So Below. Your words remind me of that.

Anonymous said...

Oh Janelle.... such an evocative way with words...listen to 'language or the kiss' by the indigo girls (with good headphones!) and tell me it isn't your post set to music. Goosebumps for days here in Minnesota. Welcome back, you. For years I read and re-read your blog and never said hey- but from the bottom of my heart- thanks for jumping back in this pond!