Thursday, December 14, 2017

First Day of Snow

More Beauty & Terror

It snowed last Thursday, December 7, and that was the first snow of the year. I woke up, looked out the bedroom window, saw a white void. The entire canyon where I live was enshrouded inside a snow cloud. It was so thick I couldn't see the apple trees lining the coyote fence that are only about ten paces from the window. 

At first, the snow flying around was small, tiny particles, but then became large flakes, flakes stuck to flakes, and the ground was eventually covered. Around noon, the cloud began to thin and clear.

By December, it usually has snowed here in Santa Fe at least twice - more up in the foothills and mountains. Because it hasn't snowed at all this fall, the snow brought up that dread and anxiety I feel when thinking or reading about Climate Change (the summers here are starting to become viciously hot; and most winters are now mild...and Santa Fe is at 7000 feet!).  

Ah, yes, Climate Change: 
the great horror in the mind that we've so desperately tried to make invisible, to erase from every day view. The US is probably the only place left on earth where news outlets still allow crank scientists - paid by oil companies - to talk and babble and keep refluxing their tired ideas that have no basis in fact. 

I have always thought that the desperate urge to believe these cranks is because the horror of Climate Change (the destruction of something so essential and unprecedented as the cycles of nature) is too vast for many to absorb. It's easier to look away, call it all a hoax - like those who keep claiming that all the gun massacres are hoaxes, desperate to cling to their vision of how the world should be - not how it is.

(Believe me, I know how hard it is to see the world as it actually is, but the only way to peace - internal, external - is to see what is right there in front of you...however painful...).

And so thoughts of Climate Change got me to ruminating about those things in this culture that are right out there in plain sight and yet remain invisible, something we see at the corner of the eye, and continually dismiss. 

There are so many of these things that I can't go into the list here...except one:

The wars, so many wars, that the US military is engaged in around the world...

...the war in Afghanistan (in its sixteenth year),the war in Iraq (in its fourteenth year), Libya, Somalia, the skirmishes and black ops all over Africa (as the recent deaths of soldiers in Niger have made clear), in the Philippines...

The carnage and bodies (civilians, children) has increased exponentially in the last ten years.

And so the snow fell through the morning, until about noon. It was beautiful. I have always been entranced by snow. Even when I have to shovel it. Even when it makes the roads treacherous. It calms me. It buries the noise of the world for a little while. It buries the noise in my head for a little while. It illuminates the tracks of animals that normally slink and pad through the night undetected.

In the face of such beauty, the fear, sorrow, and anger continued. Once again, beauty and terror. The beauty and terror moved through me throughout the weekend. The snow has melted, but the thoughts continued. Last night I wrote this (still a work in progress):

First Snow of the Year


The topmost pear branch is a deer femur.

Magpie claw-prints are visible for a few seconds,
then fold into stone.

A perfect sphere of snow gathers on top
of the last standing post of a fallen fence.

Old borders, buried.


Things that were invisible before - fallen
branches and dead stalks, a gopher's hole - 
become visible as snow settles.

A hollow sunflower stalk, head bent down,
bearing the weight of the entire snow cloud,
scans the trees ahead, then begins to move -
stiff, limping - carrying his dead daughter's
possessions on his back. It is all he has. All
that lies between himself and death.


The wars go on and on. Many years ago, they
became invisible, faded into the background.
No war news anymore. When did that happen?

We go to work, come home, eat dinner, talk, 
remark how the moon makes the shadows of things -
     trees, stones, parked cars, houses, walls -
                more real than the things themselves...


Bright moon, clear sky: bone-light on blue snow.

Beyond the bedroom window, something moves.
                        I turn slowly, want it to be a face,
a stranger's face, asking for something,
                                                                a sacrifice -

                        a finger bone, an eye, the part
                 of me that lives inside a cholla thorn
                        lit orange by the setting sun -

but there is nothing there. There is never anything there.



"Every country destroyed or destabilized by U.S. military action is now a breeding ground for terrorism." 

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