826: How

826: How

826: How


I’m Major Jackson and this is The Slowdown.

Last October, driving north on Interstate 89, my wife Didi was behind the wheel. I was in the passenger seat, commenting on the vibrant red and orange leaves of the maples and oaks. Vermont was in the throes of one of its famed leaf peeping seasons, a phrase that always has me chuckle a bit. On its descent below the horizon, the autumnal sun peaked in and out of passing trees. Above us in the sky was this blazing fragment of a rainbow, a massive prism of color framed by surrounding clouds. I was startled; seeing it a second later, Didi audibly gasped.

Were I living in centuries past, I might have read the image in the sky as some sort of wizardry, some magic or sign, engineered and visited upon us by some divine spirit. However, living in the 21st century, of course, I almost reached for my phone to Google; but, you know what? I stopped short, and just let myself marvel, we both simply gazed up, mouths agape, speechless.

Isn’t it a pleasure sometimes to simply live in the ineffable? I have noticed lately that running to retrieve my phone to source answers short-circuits one of my favorite feelings in life: the evocative experience of being awed, encountering something vast and grand. I looked at Didi and she looked back at me, and in that moment, the magic of sunlight refracting ice crystals in the atmosphere mediated something deeper. We bore witness to each other’s reactions to the sublime and took in the fullness of each other’s beings.

A breathtaking experience like that can circle us back to the primary awe of being alive. Journeying through the unknown. It underscores that question: How is it possible that we are here, all of us together, at this moment in our lives, among those we love, with our hungers and our desires, our rage and our sorrows?

Today’s poem is full of the music of wonder and the miracle that makes itself visible to us in both the extraordinary and the ordinary.

by Heid E. Erdrich

Loves  How I  love  you  How  you  How we  hang  on  words  How eaten  with
need  How we need to  eat  How weevils sift the wheat  How cold  it is  How
thick with  hoarfrost ice slick  sleet freeze  How wintry  the mix  How  full of
angst  How gut sick  How blue lipped How we drink  How we  drink  a health
How we care How easy over as eggs How it all slides How absurd  How  yet
tender we all  How  wrapped in a thick coat  How battered  How slender the
flesh  How  we  wrap  ourselves  How  many  selves  we  all  How  I  miss  you
many  How I see you  How your eyes warm mine  How tiny am  I inside  How
enormous my need  How you  open  an old-fashioned satchel  How deep it
yawns  How bleak  this need  How like winter  How it  yet  catches  the light
How brilliant the sun dogs  parhelion moon dogs  paraselene phenomenon
optic  How fetching  your spectacles  How my thumbs  might  fit  alongside
the slope of your nose How my own glasses slide down my thin bridge How
ridiculous the  theory of  the bridge  How  inane  the  bibble babble  How we
grew to be  friends  How we  grew thumbs  How  opposable  we  all  How  we
grew  sparks  How  we  blew  up  a  fire  How  angry  How  incensed  How  we
resist  How we bead up drops  How water will not run How we distract How
loud the dog  snores  How  loudly  How  noisy  the  snow  grows  How  many
degrees below  How we fret  How again  How we all came here  How did we
come How did we How loves How did we come to this

“How” by Heid E. Erdrich from LITTLE BIG BULLY, © 2020 Heid E. Erdrich. Used by permission of Penguin Random House.