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A Hundred Gourds 2:4 September 2013
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Steven Carter - USA


Autumn Dreaming


Brother fire, sister wind


Rowing on Swan Lake, I think of a story about St. Francis. In it, a fierce wolf terrorized the small town of Gubbio, prompting the people to go up to Assisi and ask for help. St. Francis went looking for the wolf, and when he found it said, “If you will stop attacking Gubbio, the citizens promise to give you ample food for the rest of your life. If you agree, give me your paw.” And the wolf gave him its paw.

But what really makes us brothers and sisters? I wonder as white-topped Mt. Aeneas comes into view. Then I have it. It’s what Emerson called the NOT ME, the terrible presence of absence, connects us all: dots in a faceless universe, including the stars. Of course, St. Francis would never think of it that way . . .

Thirty miles away, across the Mission Mountains, is the ghost of Glacial Lake Missoula created by a gigantic ice dam ten thousand years ago. One day the dam burst, and at 70 mph a 300-foot wall of water began its long journey to the ocean, scouring out town-sized potholes in the desert landscape of what is now eastern Washington. On the coast, Indians woke up to a distant roar which grew louder all morning. Six hours later, casting his fishing net into a stream, one looked up and saw it coming, a crown peaking between two mountains, studded with trees and boulders like so many jewels. I like to think the fisherman opened his arms to this emissary of the NOT ME, as it swept him away.

cry of a loon
             slitting the day moon—
                                        one thin cloud


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