Our teachers, our poets and prophets, have spiritual depth to fathom the mysteries. They have a voice that carries. They know where to find the truth, often in unusual places.
Language of the trees:
Thoreau listened carefully,
learning how to tell.
When I was doing business at Over the Transom Books, I sold used and rare books, and a few new novels by contemporary Southern writers, mostly the work of people I knew. I’d unlock the door on quiet mornings and even in the empty store, the company of so many books was like walking into a parlor filled with guests sharing stories. Kind of noisy. With a smoky scent of age in the room—pleasant, like a favorite woolen jacket. I get the same feeling of companionship sitting near books while I’m typing out lines and pages of my own.
Study lined with books–
desk, lamp, paper, ink and pen.
Best friends, words stay ever near.
So, I hardly know how to speak of this thing that I fear is trending. I saw it twice in one day last week in Tuscaloosa. First, in an antique store where someone had crafted a wreath of pages torn from books and rolled into cones that were glued to a wooden circle. From a distance across the floor it looked like a big white carnation. I thought of it, on the other hand, as some funeral spray for the deceased book.
Later, in an expensive furniture store, the cubby hole book shelves on either side of a bed that cost more than I paid for my one-owner Subaru station wagon were filled with what appeared at-first to be ancient bound manuscripts. A close look revealed they were hardback books with their covers and spines ripped off, shelved backwards with their loose page-edges turned outward. What were once books for reading had been wrecked into a decorator’s fashion statement, and a booklover’s tragedy.
Lift the sofa, please.
It needs some leveling up.
Those three books should do.
I’ve worked heavy construction. Walked through a gate onto a steel and concrete landscape of cranes, buckhoists, scaffolding, jackhammers, track hoes and big trucks. Worn a hardhat and steel toe boots, earplugs for the noise, a facemask for the dust. My skin wet with sweat, and my shirt and pants getting grimy.
Workers everywhere, watchful for something falling, cautious for trip hazards. Somebody’s got your back. Still, sometimes there’s blood. I’ve been hauled twice to the hospital with job-site injuries.
Plumbers, electricians, frame and drywall crews, welders, tile men and flooring crews, painters—men and some women on the move, hustling all over the job site, chattering, telling stories, laughing and cursing, bending their backs making a building come out of the ground.
Then dream of quiet, like fog settling in. And from out of some eternal stillness, imagine great and beautiful things created from willful thought and impulse.
Listen for silence,
God’s bright calm that caused the world.