Equinoctial Wood

things I noticed
Equinoctial wood. Watercolour painting illustration of a bridge in a forest in autumn.

The wood is on fire tonight. Changeable light, the sun sinking, the sky shrinking into red and flaring up. Light, coming from the ground fills up the forest all with flame.

The wood tonight smells like a rotting apple, Dionysian feast for rabbits. Watch them run through their wanders, drunk, besotted on this goblin yellow yield. Fox, in this forest, himself a flame.

Who knew how this secret place would give one final graceful orgy out? Who could anticipate this mad enraptured succulence?

Over the bridge it seems the gully is not what it was. Live leaves run it down. They own it. They run in it a current of all currents, and not.

Woman’s face, a beaming brown sun. Her self one with the forest and the mood of this place, me, one, each of us greeting the other as she who has seen and taken part in revelry, this Dionysian moment, this hinge, as we fall from and into.

Once again, this woodpecker upon a tree holds his own reign, holds forth his rhythm. He fears not the fire running up the very limbs of trees, for his limbs are not tied to earth as rabbits are tied to earth. Let him be drunk on sap. If he falls he fears not. Flight carries him up, up, red jaunty cap its own rising lick of flame.

And if we built a shelter here, my love, what doves we could become! Thee and me curled small in the cave of fallen trees. What elegance need we, when this pyramid of our making will hold against any winter’s fall? Bring thee thy skin to my chin. We will curl small, smaller. Smallest of all, make me into a seed. Bury me under these trees, this mound, this architectonic ground. Let me sleep, shiver, as the last flames of autumn run high, higher. I sink.

And there she is, my other part, my counterpart, the flip to my friend. Her smile is galactic, wide as the wood is wide. Her eyes shine.

And there is the joy of the woman in the wood. And there is the joy of the wood in the woman.

Two cats

things I noticed

Two cats, both black and white but not brothers, emerge. Know them by their fears: sleek young one fears the other, his dash, his sudden flash of teeth, barbarity. The other fears me. Yellow eyes askance, we face one another. Black fur grey, an undercoat of dirt. He moves not. Half a cat facing, half hidden in the vert.

The sleek young one rolls on his back on the grass, ecstatic. The other glances, dismisses, retires.

Apples blossom.

The luxury of time to stand before a bloom for as long as is right, for as long as it takes to make the marks I need on my page and the state of my mind. To stand and slowly study light. Luxury, to breath in the wood in a season most alive, to care more for the light and the air than for when I will arrive. Luxury, to have hands that have learned to mark, eyes that have learned to see. To have this capacity.

Gratitude to past me. Only, there is no past. There is no “was”.

What if I am the only one that is? If there is only now, if was is only memory and memory is nothing but imagined sense, if reality exists only in perception, I am indeed alone.

At that thought: lonely?

A little.


No one is in the mirror.

Why need a mirror?

If reality exists only in perception, to be seen is to be made real. To see is to make real. I am made real by that one’s witnessing, yet even as (s)he witnesses (s)he is not real except in my seeing. Witnessing reciprocal, and therefore circular: therein its downfall.

A yellow smell: sun, new grass and dandelions. Cooler, greener under the maple trees.

Shallow curve of sound

things I noticed

Human double-tall, carrying son on his shoulders as I carry sun on my shoulders. Both in black, from behind they look like a great four-armed beast or being. Little fluff dog trots behind, familiar.

Mugs the sheepdog approaches with his human: pink-tongue smile, wiry long bangs, his rolling gait. He is the happiest and gentlest of dogs.

Goslings for the first time this year. Fat, fluffed and grazing on the grass like Canadian sheep. A Sheltie pup comes trotting and they eye each other, sit, amazed and sheepish. Alike in their tan downy coats, their unknowing.

Mother’s call is a shallow curve of sound, serrated.

New wet-looking leaves on the maples, still softly transparent and clinging.

The purple buds have opened up into bunches of white blossoms, still small. One half-bloomed cluster placed just at nose height, a heady scent of pear and something sweeter. Ice wine? Quebec cider. Light, sharp, neither heavy nor cloying but seductive to forest walkers.

First bugs buzz, here by the half-hearted creek in the heart of the wood.

Seat on a stump. They’ve been cutting again. Last year’s logs now green in the gaps of upped roots. These trees too vigourous to stay slain.

Scalloped edge on an old tree’s new face, trunk sawed straight to show bark split as the core once expanded. This tree fell quite lately, sprawled in weary dignity across the forest path. We climbed or scuttled under, we walkers, we runners, until men from the city came to clear the way.

Trees in this forest lean together drunkenly, murmur scandal to one another. The forest speaks in creaks and shushes, a language only they can hear. If there is a great awareness here, it is not in the beasts but in the trees.

Kites in the air

things I noticed

Reluctance waking. Wanting to stay in the warm depths of not-conscious in the blankets. Cool air does not call.

An hour, and by the time I rise the dawn is broken.

I dreamed that due to poverty the young one, the redhead, collapsed. I dreamed in isolated ages the old one, the bedhead, relapsed.

Things are not as they are. Faces flicker. On the wall, marks flicker. From the hall upstairs, voices, insistent, call. Rules are changing and you cannot even defend with the words, “This was never thus.” Cannot even hold to what was.

Today I am a wall awash in waves. A word could cave in the crack.

Smell through a florest’s open door: wet, green, lily-filled

Kites in the air over the hill.

On the corner, a baby’s wail that will take down the world.

Wind has a new voice

things I noticed

The wind has a new voice; “Hurry, hurry!” Playful and insistent.

High, a hawk or a falcon. Blunt head, flat wings, circling. Slivers in and out of the sun, becomes a splinter, is gone. Into the wood we go.

Who knew? The shap little buds become blossoms that bend in the wind, waving tender red leaflets. See!

A haze of green whispers around the elders.

The healing plants have flowered, but their eyes are closed in the morning. Sleeping? After noon, the forest floor explodes in white. Leggy and brazen in the light.

Each light humble

things I noticed

Blue light before dawn. Wishing to be out in it. Cooler air, a chorus: birds waking as the world wakes.

Days of needing more sleep: eight hours, nine, eleven. Days of needing seven, six, of needing five. The way my body feels, this early.

No to the yellow light, no to the flickering electric light. Hold to the blue, and the crackle of the birds’ song. Hold to the shimmer of a candle, a light which does not presume to cancel the dim blue light of the dawn.

Desire for a friend which is not desire for sex, but to witness. Desire to be with, and not need to express or impress. Self less keenly urgent brought to fore, less demanding. Hanging, and content to hang, for the grip is secure. Let hang. Look elsewhere. Desire to witness another as I witness the dawn.

Dim, early light, the light of a candle. The day dandles, barely born.

To see a human in such grace.

I yearn to erase consciousness, and not to be erased.

Dawn can see a candle; candle, dawn. Each light humble. Each light on its own, but mingled. Each light, not to overrun a light, but to be one.

Day made short

things I noticed

A high in long talking after absence, in trusting a mind not only to intend but to carry out kindness. A mind in kind, in playful games of chance with words, with mine. Meandering, meaning as the way in.

Twisted tree on the way like a vine, arms coiled around its own self to find what gravity is. Gravity scarcely holds, and shoots take flight. Leaves scarcely clothe it. Sit to trace the winding, wings of the wood unwinding, sanguine, stretching, with eyes half-closed.

Welcome stretch of arms upraised, the little crease at the shoulder between clavicle and laughter.

Day made short by looking at what matters. Filled with absence, lighter.

Hoya run

things I noticed

The little hoya plant coiled round a leaf of sansivera, what my mother would call mother-in-law’s tongue. Oh no, little plant, that is not your place. Here, embrace yourself. A second shoot emerging from the cluster of leaves at the base, one more tendril to contend with. Who knew a plant could be such mischief?

Running for the first time in my adult life. Running voluntarily, even. Pain in my right knee, on the outside of the bone, in my upper shin. Worse walking down hill and down stairs, when weight bears down on the joint. Give in, walk and suddenly walking feels slow. Even slowest runners pass me.

Running past me, old and small and round and large women and men, pear shaped and string bean, grandmothers and children. “Go,” I salut them in my mind. “I can’t, but you can. Go on.”

My flowered shoes are fading.

Old man heron overhead. The way his wings rise from his shoulders, cup the air, flight feathers dip down. Not like geese or ducks or crows, not like the hawks I see over the forest. He is the only one like him.

Dash from between town houses: a starling chased by a crow. Into the sun over the ponds, crow’s belly flashing. Twisting, turning after the little brown starling.

The Ziegarnick effect

things I noticed

I noticed myself revisiting arguments with exes, and making new ones up. Why? What door am I closing? Am I turning off a burner, or switching it on?

There’s an effect named for Zeigarnick, which describes our craving for closure. Whatever is left open must be closed, what’s unfinished must be finished, what’s unsaid, said. Years later I’m saying, and since the ex is nowhere here to hear I’ll keep saying, saying, saying.

What if I spoke for a different ear? The sky is blue, the birds are busy, and I am here.

I cannot win that argument. It’s unfinished, and it’s over. But I can tell myself what I wish I had done, and what I would like to do next time. Remember that I am here, now, not there, then. How often I speak to people who aren’t there – my ex, my mother, my friend. Fighting, describing, showing off. All my thoughts are carried on trains bound for one witness or another. Then thought rolls in the context of that relationship, and is coloured by it.

How difficult it is to think to myself, even for a moment.


things I noticed

An urge to squabble, to win a stale argument, to define “prehistoric”, “pre-literate”, and “genocide”, but not as they are defined in a dictionary on my parents’ bookshelf printed in 1966. First, to un-define them, to say what they are not, that I may climb upon my high white horse.

Muttering to self, laughter that has nothing to do with humour. I notice gestures shifting across my face: frown, sneer, smile that is not a smile.

Why this, now?

Quarter moon still high, a chalk smear on blue.