ContentsPutah and Cache: Entering

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Scenery

Christopher Sindt

Suggestions from the inside alter our perceptions of an "objective"
outside—and from the interplay of these internal theses and external antitheses,
we reach new syntheses of increased understanding.
                                        Stephen Jay Gould

And what you see outside you, you see within.
It is visible and it is your garment.
                                        "The Thunder: Perfect Mind" in The Nag Hammadi Library

I'm beside the bridge: to my left, the duckweed is frightening
     the muddy shoreline:
and the texture of the creek itself: soupy, pooling, teasing
 
and kneading the word place
calmly beside the bank:          and graffiti on the bridge
     and infrequently passing cars:
 
if this is destiny, we stick to the reminder
of ourselves, and past
 
selves, where again is obvious (as the creek is mostly obvious
 
although diverted): mixed in a softer
  surrounding
 
remembering only confuses the issues, dries them up:
 
a farmhouse surrounded by olive trees, black
stains on the pavement, red
dirt along irrigation canals—sifted, pressed:
 
many of these rocks
  are highly folded
 
the dog running apace with the horse, the lost leash,
an outwardness along the giant bowl of sky
above: nowhere to turn
inward, you might say: shows many
  irregular fractures
 
(hard to think of anything but injury:
jack rabbits and fence lizards watch from the borders:
I throw seeds into runnels and run away:
the wound is not deep enough, yet; no, the wound is not there at all—)
the way the horse looks
                                         askance, the way memory locks
into an outwardness askance to the horse's knowing:
 
the listener seems to know, has been along road 98
                                         or has traced the straight lines
                                         of phone or electricity: composed variously
  of sheared shaled
  or serpentine
 
bicycles and cars pass cottonwood and valley oak:
the trees are remembered
as a compression, a layering
on top of a dispersing surface:
 
  summer heat becomes
  extreme
 
whereas the rememberer cannot hear exactly
on a day in August of the year xxxx:
 
only the trailing migrations of the Nashville warbler, the dusky
     flycatcher, western tanager (dusky soul, compose me
variously, warble me
                                         into your irregular fractures):
 
feel the mournful willowings
of the hardest, windiest,
                                         most sham-full of places:
does the project make it true:
does it make breathing easier:
 
  high enough to keep
  cool marine air from
  penetrating to the
  Great Central Valley
 
this story looks like seriousness, here beside
the bridge with grafitti and the mud pooling:
 
dry, windy, difficult and full of mustard and wild radish in spring:
shot from the ground up:
 
     (we traced the stems of wild radish up to the petals:
      propellers of veined cloth, as if pressed before flowering:
     field mustard: she said the petals were like babies' hands:
     she said it smelled like licorice and talcum powder)
 
easier, where:
 
it was supposed to get easier with studies and maps and statistics:
 
it was supposed to be conquered by our minds
                                         in this way, become relative
 
to us here and there:
 
shouldn't the layers sometimes reveal themselves
without work:
 
     (wild oats are not about suffering they're about emptiness:
     the inside no longer necessary, facts gone; drooping panicles, sad, downtrodden:
     you're wondering if consciousness persists there:
     or a word that means consciousness-without-value:
     you're afraid of strong, upright posture, husk of body, body without spirit)
 
and here the creek and its muddy sop
a kind of dirty window,
                                          a ragged opening
 
of weeds: yet a precise answer
to many questions: brown water, blue sky:
 
      (fog: a space where the mountains should be, and you have so little substance today:
     lying in bed, waiting for hours for the elm to take shape:
     inside, a cricket crosses the hardwood and stops at a pair of Levis:
     the bush is scraping against the drainpipe; this morning's song: scrape, ding, scrape, ding:
     as the day opens up, blackbirds take flight, their bantam bodies sliding through the gray:
     glinting black wings finding substance in the air; splitting the sky and being denied by the sky)
 
a single swooping wave of blackbirds, daily
with cigarettes on the front porch:
 
  doesn't look much like it did
  thousands of years ago
  it has endured
 
     (in the absence of thought there is what:
     he felt he could lose the constraints of the body:
     he felt the mind could be collapsed and laid flat:
     things do happen in the darkness the mind makes:)
 
a wave and then another wave, in the landscape:
 
bicycles on the path, hands clutching in March wind, march wind:
 
  these rocks, indicated
  in Figure 1
 
always driving through the valley
                                          driving to and away,
the creek, the seeps, the wetlands turn freeway          into edge:
 
  a few are visible
   from a speeding car,
  but the majority
  requires very close
  examination
  to be appreciated
 
the freeway insists that everything's scenery:
glossy, summarized, poemed:
 
     (rows of Chinese pistache along the borders, flaring:
     and beyond the pistache, what seems to be a wide, empty distance:
     a loneliness spreading out like a long night:
     the new housing developments in Dixon, fresh cut lumber, new pavement:
     the billboard Holstein, who says in her plywood bubble: My milk only 68¢ a quart!)
 
sometimes I looked up to the cloud designs in dreams,
 
                                          sometimes down, water running,
water soaking in:
 
and yet time always presses forward
and disappears, pretty stupid
versions of the story trailing behind:
 
     (it was quiet then, except for the crickets and my pocket watch:
     the land was suffering because it wanted to suffer:
     I walked into the field, ran my hand through the safflower:
     felt the prick, the dimpling blood, the soft slow pain)
 
so that I can now return to the bridge and say oh, look at that new
                                          paint, new flow, fresh growth:
 
the mind wants this but loves
that it never gets this:
hiding among weeds in the aquatic zone:
 
  serpentine plants can be
  lumped into two categories
  tolerators and avoiders
how shall we explain the
was established in
for the protection of the:
 
   the university
  has never advertised
some things, yet, are seen,
                                          publicized: the great blue heron
with its question mark neck:
poison oak promises:
 
still, something doesn't speak:
and then gets even quieter:
nothing pretty here, why should the poetry be:
 
     (a sky, an emergency room:
     a field of alfalfa insistently, demandingly leveled:
     something that decides things for us, the raw nerve of the whole world:
     something with just a little flesh on it:
     we sowed tomatoes, marigolds, crook-neck squash, zucchini:
     we dropped snail pellets and pruned roses:
     those were sweet nights: the cats walked by with beautiful sticky tongues and climbed in grape covered awnings:
     farm workers gathered at the sides of the fields, shined flood lamps inward:
     there were no flutes on the edges, no guitars; only conversation in the shade:
     a distant truck, the rolling drone of the combine:
     the soft covering of the place shaved, removed; bare cracked dirt:
     later, mourning doves and red-winged blackbirds)
 
a widening wideness, he feels this
glancing out over the field and then becoming
quarantined by geography:
 
  covers some 810 square miles
  passes through four counties
  and forms the border between
 
the sky has changed some:
this is where the subject at hand empties and empties:
stories here and there making deposits:
knowing is: a map: design:
what there is that can be remembered:
where:
in the beginning:
the place should be there: beside the bridge:
and here

 

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