Column #9 Motherland magazine

Coincidences and hints. That’s what’s in the air for me this week. I’m keeping my eye out for them. It started with stepping on crushed berries from a Rowan tree. Just like a poem I read years ago. It was about someone standing next to a Rowan tree looking at a perfect world from afar. The berries fall into the image, shattering the illusion, leaving ugly shards of broken glass. It was about moving from childhood into adulthood. Understanding from experience that life is not the unblemished picture you thought. I noticed the crush of Rowan berries on the footpath and thought of this, years later. And I thought: that isn’t the full story.

I’ve lived in the imperfection as an adult for some time now. But I’m learning to see the wonder within it. Not in an airy-fairy sort of way. Just in the kind of way that tries to notice. I am thinking that signs and portents, symbols and markers are all around. I know that in a world where signs are billboards and markers are painted on roads, this is either considered quaint or mad, but I don’t care. I want to see something every day, even if I am trudging.

The berries led me to think about the things that defy imperfection, like the rotting leaves underfoot and their particular vibrant sort of beauty. How their smell was of autumn disappearing into the crisp of an air that belonged to winter. As I walked on concrete through leaves, avoiding puddles, I glanced to the side and there in the hedge was a book (really). It was a Keats compendium. I opened at random. Here is the verse I read:

And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she saw not…

It was a poem called Isabella, or the Pot of Basil (look it up for the full gruesome medieval tale). The pertinence for me was the forgetting. I don’t want to forget those things. How weird that the stars, the moon, and sun are somehow easy to forget. Why do I forget the blue above the trees in favour of ticker tape thoughts click clacking around my brain? How do I forget to see the magnificence of a chilly autumn breeze? Because it is magnificent. Being alive to these sensations is magnificent. Being alive. I know all too well I am living in imperfection, and I weep over those things that ache: the shards of glass, the ugly cuts and gashes delivered to humanity. The hopes of ideals crushed beneath feet. But still I do not want to forget the other things. I really want to remember.

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