Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Fragment, Never Finished

from the Typology of Place and Soul

The Plow

The people had gone but they had cast a long shadow over the field. The trees which barricaded the flatland of Queen Anne’s Lace and thistle appeared to genuflect toward the curtain of maple and oak, and the tangled veil of vine and shrubs which formed a half-screen of under story. People had scored the land with their marks, but those had reached their half-life. A faded imprint moving semi-formed among those maples, oaks, and Queen Anne’s Lace, set to motion by the idea that people had been here and were now only an after image.

But finding their reflections is easy. Their inconspicuousness, in some puzzling way, only lent weight to the theory of this place. That people had come and gone and would not come again. Yet rust can have a solidifying property. It is a general category to a specific instance and in this place of silences and green filtered light it was like a beacon in a murky, hazy night.

So the plow sat, consequential yet discarded, shrunken but conspicuous, where the farmer of this field had left it long ago. Its placement appeared obvious, even self-critical. At the end of a furrow long overgrown the plow was abandoned. And then that wall of green, slow, deliberate, corrosive, began its counterattack after two hundred years of being held at bay. The woods and fields had the strategic depth and hence the advantage of  retreat and now the offensive could not be halted. Nature, like war, has its own strange momentum and tipping points, its moments when the last moment of one era lingers and then ends, to be replaced by something new, a thing indelible and hence never ebbing.

So we can stand, you and I, and look over this rusty plow, in this long field, stretched out in the hot, shimmering spring day, this unlikely moment of heat. Men had gouged out this earth to plant wheat, barley, corn, and than it lay fallow, a deceptive word. For it is active. Alive and ascending a ladder to more life.

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