Nature is not a place to visit; it is home.
~ Gary Snyder
There is fretful urgency in the racket of cicadas
logging in the surrounding evergreens — a gathering
of vertical coffins beautifully balanced on unshapely
mountains — and in the roll of the rumour of outsider
rigs on the upper slopes, a cluster of the red-eyed
coming to witness the morning spectacles: the dissolution
of a hundred acres of ground, shamanic hills wiped
out. In the clearing converted to desert moonscape,
lone dogs mouth the manic sound of non-native species
enthusiastic for human society. On a bright Sunday,
the narrow-eyed man with thin silver hair lit from behind
can take no supporting role in leisurely pushing the limits
of his Buddhist mind; his destiny was to understand
the hunger for the natural and career-defining, the drift
of the porous life the troubled Zen poet, zeroing in on clumps
of lichen on an inch of rock, confirmed was his for eternity.
He walked the road, offbeat thief of time, but seeing
nothing, moved into the forest, stretches of wilderness his
backdrop for a final self-constructed mystery programmed
through meditation on the required orange prayer
mats scattered in the shade of his pioneer homestead.
The solution to the koan was rice. He kept a gun
for business, and the proper means of getting away, fast,
when noises of chainsaws came close, and to give
greeting to students heavily dosed on Ginsberg readings,
a dark thesis topic, a sequence of his own early quotations.
He set daily routines by diverted rain and weeks of winter
snow, by wood-choppers, the mad chanters of translations
from the Japanese and Chinese, the unfolding scroll
of ocean beyond, a rally of seductive clouds, the spray
of weekend tourists at brunch around a central fire pit,
green tea in a hanging pot. Poems took their toll, uncoiling
in a space where inspiration came like no natural
occurrence and the instinct for betraying the approaching
ghosts required constant migrations, a home nowhere,
and the certainty of what was inside and brilliant.
© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas
This poem was crafted using words from the marvelous (and more than 6,000-word-long) essay "The Man in the Clearing: Ian Sinclair Meets Gary Snyder", London Review of Books, Vol. 34, No. 10, May 24, 2012
Direct Article Link: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n10/iain-sinclair/the-man-in-the-clearing
For those unfamiliar with poet Gary Snyder, see my post "Poet Laureate of Deep Ecology".