Letters from Cricket Song
Missive the SixteenthNo Particular Aim. Leaving Out the Somethingness of the Zeroes.
DATELINE: Friday, September 8, 2000, at 2300 hours CDT.
Conway, Arkansas, USA
By D. Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles
CornDancer & Company
The opening of Cricket Song's windows after so many hard weeks of burning hot summer is an event unto itself. Close-by evidence of the presence of the Great Beyond enters again into the atmosphere of the hermitage.
Birds who inhabit or visit the oak, elm, plum, magnolia, dogwood, ash, sweet gum, cypress, and sycamore trees, which encircle and shelter Cricket Song -- I hear them again, these manic flittering beings of the air, the jays, robins, woodpeckers, nightingales, cardinals, orioles, crows, finches, and wrens who sing in the morning sun, who chatter at midday while they prune and forage, and who fuss at one another over various territorial issues that arise at the bird bath, the worm field, or the fig tree.
I am listing things again, birds and trees, enemies and opportunities. (I am listing to the starboard like an abandoned barge on the edge of the lingering vortex of the homicide.) It must be a taxonomic mechanism of natural self-defense against the incessant interruption of numbers, the counting of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 that sneaks into my consciousness when I least expect it. It is small consolation that I leave out the nothingness of the zeroes.
"You are mistaken, Ebenezer," interrupts Oskob de Opposite, rousing from long slumber in our Opposite Loft. "A zero by the mere fact of its existence is something. You would be more correct to claim that you have left out the somethingness of the zeroes. I quote N. L. Glinka, 1958, Mir Publishers Moscow, 1. Matter and Its Motion:
Glinka's Fundamental Law of Nothing.
" 'Notwithstanding all the diverse ways in which various forms of motion can transform into other ones, a fundamental law of nature -- that of the eternity of matter and its motion, is accurately observed. This law governs all kinds of matter and all forms of its motion; no kind of matter and no forms of motion can be obtained from nothing or converted into nothing.' "
The great horned owl, who sometimes alights high in the old-growth red oak, the grandmother oak at the northeast corner of the garden, has not called to me since I opened the windows, but she shall, some mystical night soon. She arrives to hoot once or thrice, always between three and four in the a.m., always at the appropriate moment for my spiritual edification. She breaks from her hunt to rest on a high branch and calls to me when I need to hear her calling, when I am cuddled by pillows and my meditation deepens, when I have managed to stop the mundane cud-chewing on undone tasks and loose ends to enter, at last, into the private regions of my island of Achernar at the end of the river.
One day I hope to tell you more about Achernar. It is far away from the Others. On a great mound there, the Spirits of my ancestors visit me without condemnation. A footbridge leads from one sloping edge of the mound to the Great City with its grand library, where Azoth tends the stacks. Achernar, however, is another matter altogether.
About a few of those Others, I simply must interject a coded pronouncement: I am aware that you are watching me, you spurned, devious, and scheming children of the beloved father. I am wise to you. I wish you could discover better things to do. I fear you want to punish me for your own transgressions. Better, I think, for you to let it be.
That, too, is another matter, one I wish would go away. How many private ghosts do you entertain?
The Zephyr, Boreas, Nod and the Easterlies.
How could I ever have drifted so far away from the open windows into my closet of fears and insecurities? It might be an effect of the recent falling of the humid night onto the westerly view through the windows ahead of me. I glimpsed a shard of the orange ball of Sun, then nothing but blackness behind the glass and screens.
The architecture of our abode is least open to the gentle zephyr and its southern brother, but then the zephyr, though pleasing, is the wind of least substance.
The long north wall of the shotgun farmhouse, upon whose foundation Cricket Song is raised, features an abundance of friendly windows, which were eager to welcome whirling Boreas' return. His arrival some forty-eight hours ago on dark-maned stallions, the cool and fertile breath he blew our way, inspired the opening of the windows.
The most enchanting of the winds which blow at Cricket Song emanates from the fourth of the cardinal-point brothers, soothing Nod and his potent Easterlies. They rustle through the broad magnolia leaves just beyond the windows of my study, tossing gossamer white-cotton curtains into the room like soft spray from white-crested waves.Laden with gold is the wind from the east,
Whenever the wind does not blow
Over the grass of the plain or mountain heather,
Whosoever is then born,
Whether boy or girl, a fool shall be.
from Ossianic Society's Publications, 1855,
as retold by Robert Graves.
In the sleeping room, where three east-facing windows span the width of the big bed, I can lay in the darkness beside my true love and my pups, listening to Nod's natural passage through the branches and leaves as he dances or drifts into the room. The breezes are a comfort to me. They are a herald's cry for the end of summer.
When the breezes lessen and the quiet arrives, I can hear the late summer's cricket song, listen for the hooting of the great horned owl as she pauses on her nocturnal hunt to shout through the darkness and remind me of what is lost. What is to be gained, regained, restored, and mastered: Of these I must remind myself.
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