Finding My Line

From Concourse As to Es

And from moving sidewalks

To gray carpeted walkways

To clickclickclick rolling suitcases

Over tiled routes

Through security and

Through revolving doors,

I have been finding my line,

And I have been walking a long way through

One inexhaustible place, a discipline of malaise,

Full of exhaustible people dressed

Like people who have forgotten where they used to live:

One more drinkers, cell phone talkers, Economist readers,

Obnoxious laughers, child chasers, job seekers

Line breakers, jet-lagged dozers, wheelchair riders,

Shrill complainers, cancellation losers, over-sharers

Wearing pinstripe suitjackets with blue jeans,

Or donning deep blue business suits, skirts,

And neon colored running shoes.

(Here’s a question and a fear:

What if,

Instead of a simple traveler’s

Lament about airports and hotels,

Everything does become one place?)


I put the crystal, six sided and about

An inch and a half long, in my mouth—

It still had some clay on it,

And I swished it around until it was clean.

The iron tasted like blood.

I pulled it out, and then I spit out my orange saliva–

More than once.

It was after supper and without telling anyone

Where we were going, we had

Walked over toward the barn,

Through the granary with

The 15 cent Coke machine

And shovels and sawdust,

Passed the tennis courts

And the vegetable garden.

At the barn after closing the gate,

We had turned up to the west, now walking just above

Now just below slick, muddy cow paths.

The heat had fallen out of the day

And the light had become more humane

As it saw us from a more and more

Acute angle, creating the illusion that

The glow came from the earth

Rather than reflected off of it.

It was the kind of light that helps you find crystals

Once in a while embedded in the clay

And exposed by afternoon gulley washers.

But the light advantage was short-lived as

The shadows lengthened to the point

Where their edges became soft.

There is no confusing airports

(Atlanta-Hartsfield, San Francisco, Chicago-Midway,

Seattle, New Orleans just since January)

and the Rockbridge County pasture I remember:

There the world got tired with me,

And we put each other to bed

To Taps and to

Bullfrog and cricket choruses.

The Virginia Mountains long ago

Got tired of being tall and jagged,

So their identities secured, they reclined,

Rounded, turned green, and

Now are in the business of

Surrendering their mineral wares

(Garnets, schist, quartz)

To streams, mostly slow enough now to wander more than fall

Toward the Maury,

Then to the James,

To the Chesapeake,

And on to the sea.

Now with clay layered on our shoes and our socks

And standing awkwardly against the steep sides

Of the eroded spot on the hillside,

I had wondered what was just beyond my view

Vacillating between looking at the

Same spot patiently and scanning

Chaotically in search of a flat shiny surface

Before the light lost us completely.

Just before our time ran out,

I had come upon it,

A straight line occurring in nature.

I dug with all day dirty fingers

Until it released from the side,

And I had put it in my mouth to wash it.

On the way back

I saw more things and more clearly–

a salt lick, invasive multi-floral rose,

Fresh ground mud from cows crossing the stream

A broken step on the stile,

The line of the barn roof,

The freshly cut graveyard hill,

The darkening cliffs of Jump Mountain–

Because it was in my pocket.

I could not see until I held it.

I could not hold it until I saw it.

Copyright 2012

2 thoughts on “Finding My Line

  1. glichtman May 7, 2012 / 11:27 am

    Wonderful; thanks for sharing. I recall many times like this in my geology days of using the excuse of a great day in the wilderness to look for some good crystals!

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