Friday, March 14, 2014

a breathing

The End of Sleep

The eyes are about to open.
Through fog, Sleep crosses the great water—
See how it sails in the little boat?
Slowly, such a long journey,
Bits of light
Catch colors in the mirrored hull.
Beneath the glassy surface, a glimpse
Of your dreams: the lake, the boat, with you
In it. Now a shadow
Falls over you: above the surface,
The figure of Sleep
Has leaned over its boat.
Hear Sleep's feet plop in the shallows—
It pulls the boat to shore.

      -- Elizabeth Twiddy
This morning as I neared the shore of full consciousness, what I saw through the fog was myself, getting dressed and going to church for a Presanctified Liturgy. I was full of happy anticipation. Then I pulled the blinds open and was surprised to see, not the sunny and warm skies of the last few days, but thick and cold white fog.

I've read many people who say they love the fog, and I thought of them right away, wondering why I couldn't be like them. Then I remembered the foggy days of my childhood when in the winter the damp cold would settle over California's Central Valley like a perverse blanket. Not your normal blanket that makes you cozy, but something more like a conduit of chill. My fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Wicks, who came from South Dakota, said she was never so miserable in the dry winters of her youth as she was in our "temperate" weather that froze her to the bone.

The natural and normal tule fog that emerges from the ground after the first winter rains became a dangerous foe once I learned to drive and became aware of all the car crashes on the highways that are a frequent accompaniment to the season. I became familiar with the stiff neck you get peering intently through the wall of white trying not to run into something.

But this morning in March, all of that is far behind me, and for the Valley-dwellers it is likely passed as well by this time of year. So I thought I would look for a poem by one of those fog-lovers. The fog that's outside my window is still a little too cold for my old bones to thoroughly enjoy, but I'm working on it. After all, it's another part of our earthly home that is filled with the breath of God.
The Breathing

An absolute
Trees stand
up to their knees in
fog. The fog
slowly flows
cobwebs, the grass
leaning where deer
have looked for apples.
The woods
from brook to where
the top of the hill looks
over the fog send up
not one bird.
So absolute, it is
no other than
happiness itself, a breathing
too quiet to hear.

    ~ Denise Levertov


elizabeth said...

I agree about the wet rainy days of fog being colder than the real days of winter else where! been there, done that! (in my lower mainland BC days)...

blessed day to you!

Sara said...

You are helping me learn to appreciate poetry with these two selections.

"a breathing too quiet to hear" - I love that phrase.

Gumbo Lily said...

I don't mind fog if I am home, but I do not like driving in fog. The stiff neck, yes, I know it. Better to be indoors peering out at fog.

Harmony said...

Maybe you can love this?
I do miss the fog, now that I am away from it.

GretchenJoanna said...

Harmony, that's very helpful :-)
You've reminded me about how I have loved going up in the mountains in the winter and looking down from a sunny spot on to the white blanket. But San Francisco's roiling fog is more interesting in its comings and goings.

M.K. said...

Both beautiful! I'm a lover of fog and mist.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

I'm one of those who love fog...
somewhere else.
Seriously, I do like fog but more when it's warm than cold. I think I'm just tired of winter and cold and would take anything with warmth.