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Monday, September 13, 2010

The air down here

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When the air is clear and dry, I don’t notice it, the air I mean. In September I notice instead the light, the way it falls shadowed on the drive next to the catalpa tree, or the way light inhabits leaves, along with their veins and squatters. I notice also the steady rasp that floats in currents and waves from the poplars by the pond. I stop, for that. I hear the screech of blue jays at Bishop the farm queen for being who she is, for they are who they are. I note the sun, the way it butters the meadow in its season of goldenrod and lace. I see white moths flaking the air, and countless, nameless flyers barely visible to me. I take note of the wind, the sensation of hair rising and falling on my neck and forehead as I watch sumac leaves rise and fall around swallows spiraling up. Sometimes I notice a stench, when a dead raccoon has begun decaying, and turkey buzzards circle down to commence their beautiful role, out of hunger, then preen for thirty minutes, later excreting what has been cleansed in them before delivering it back to their Earth.

But air? When it is July and humid I notice it, for then I lag under the oppression of moisture. But this substance I breathe in September, that would kill a glinty, sunny fish, what is it to me? Am I mindful that it is Life? When someone asks, If you were stranded on a desert island and could have just three things . . . do I think of air? The toupee of smog that hovers over Los Angeles where we lived when the children were born is a visible reminder that I live free and unhindered in a sheer garment that alters itself to my movements without scissors, stitches or darts. Without its molecules carrying vibrations to me, I would not hear the sounds of leaves, cicadas, birds, a stick snapping under my foot, a loved one speaking, or the strings and winds of Fauré's Sicilienne. I sleep, I breathe. I chop, cook, eat, I breathe. I read, write and speak, I breathe. I touch, smell, hear, listen, and I breathe. I walk and run, I breathe. I feel, I love, I breathe. I fall and ache and cry, I breathe. I think. I breathe.

And what do I give to this air that gives me the infinite and portable floor, walls and ceiling of my life? An exhalation: Thanks.


Post script: Today I messed around with GarageBand and recorded myself reading this piece. If you're interested in hearing me read "The air down here", go here. I prefer my voice with headphones.



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25 comments:

Ginnie said...

This is a paean of praise to the Universe, sister. Thank you!

Lorenzo said...

Oh, Ruth, what can I say? This reverie grabbed me from the beginning and slowly but surely, and oh so gently, squeezed all the air out of me. There is an old Arab saying, "speak if your words will be more beautiful than the silence". I will fall silent now in lap of the beauty your post has created today.

George said...

After reading your posting this morning — reading it several times — I find myself weighing substantially less, so light in fact that I am floating through the air, part and parcel of everything that rises, falls, and dances upon the wind. To say that what you have written is beautiful or well-crafted would be an understatement. Now that I think of it, any description would be an understatement. Just know that your words, like the air you breathe, infuses life into other corners of the world.

Susan said...

I am breathing in the beauty of your air prayer.

Bonnie said...

If I speak now I will disturb the intimate connection with the air that surrounds me. Inspiring in every way Ruth!

Shari Sunday said...

Ruth, I envy you that air. When I think of Fall, I think of the air. I really do. Fresh and clean and cool. Here in Florida, we will not get a breath of cool air until October is well underway. Take a deep breath for me. Your words are wonderful.

Babs-beetle said...

Being born in London, I know what it is to not have clean air. I am ever thankful of the beautiful clean air that I breath now. Up high and away from cities and fumes.

BTW. Something strange is happening to my comments on your posts. They are disappearing!

Claudia said...

The light of September is indeed inspiring, Ruth. This month became my favorite when I lived in Ohio - at no other time of the year were the colors as vibrant and the air as unnoticeable (like you put it so well).

Thank you for your encouraging comments in my blog. They mean a lot, especially coming from you.

Margaret Bednar said...

Made me think...it is time to open the windows! Living most of my life "up North", screen windows were the norm. It is starting to finally cool off here in North Carolina and I can't wait to turn the AC off. You are poetic, insightful, and a "Breath of fresh air"! Sorry about the pun. :)

*jean* said...

air prayer...very cool

Pauline said...

Loved this! An "air prayer" (clever Jean) indeed!

Pat said...

You string your words together so beautifully, like pearls on a necklace. I love the fall and how the air changes - no humidity (yes!). The sun has moved in the sky - the light is different. The leaves are changing - the sky is so, so blue.

California Girl said...

"the toupee of smog..." cracks me up. SOCal has the most beautiful light in the world when the air is clear. That's why the movie industry moved there from NY. But when it's smoggy, P.U. (when's the last time anyone heard "PU"?)

Tell Lorenzo I'm gonna try to take his advice about only speaking when I have something to say more beautiful than silence. That should shut me up long time. ;)

Loring Wirbel said...

Be sure to submit this to print and online literary journals, it's that good! Bravo.

ellen abbott said...

That was really beautiful Ruth.

Peter said...

Our lungs continue to inhale the air we offer them. No choice! Do WE have the choice? Some of us do. If I want to live in Paris, I guess I have to make the sacrifice of the clean air. There are pros and cons with everything. Not always easy to weigh them.

… and of course I have to agree with everybody here; what a pleasure to read you!

Jeanie said...

You know, I never thought about air as a "desert island" necessity, but it sure is. But I do notice the air in the fall. Maybe because with all my breathing issues, humidity (which I don't mind from a temperature point of view) can really make it a challenge.

So much in fall to see/notice. I took a wonderful long walk yesterday and I know what you mean about the light. I'm not sure how to describe the difference, but different it is. And the sounds -- much more skittering -- leaves, squirrels on a quest to find the last of the nuts and acorns, acorns dropping for that matter. Yes, it IS beautiful!

Ruth said...

Dear Friends, I hope you will understand and feel my heartfelt thanks in this one comment response today. Your words are joyous to me, so much so, that I seem to find no further words to say. Maybe they are in thin air where they evaporate sometimes. But the air does not feel thin, it feels saturated with the joy, love and beauty around me on this day, and I am terribly grateful for each of you for your part in it. Don’t let this pre-empt any further comments please. It’s not that I can’t take more joy, love and beauty. It’s just that I can’t bring myself to speak in the face of it. I know, I know, who is this and what have I done with Ruth?

The Bug said...

I found myself holding my breath while reading this. Just lovely.

Lorenzo said...

So glad you have included the podcast to send your prose poem out over the air waves. Your reading adds a new and deeper dimension to this beautiful piece. Dear lord, if the flutter of a butterfly's wings in one part of the world can alter weather conditions and touch off tornadoes on the other side of the globe, who knows what delicious cyclones might be touched off by the moths in your sun buttered meadows in Michigan after hearing the podcast?

renaye said...

i would love to be where u've taken the photo... i miss those environment!

Oliag said...

Amen! What a beautiful prose poem Ruth...and poetry is meant to be spoken...I loved the sound of your voice speaking this...the air passing over your vocal chords...

xo

Gabriele Agustini said...

Such a beautiful post!
Thank you for making it so enjoyable to visit here!!
I love your blog!!

Bella Rum said...

This is an inspiring time of year and your words do it justice. Beautiful, Ruth.

ds said...

So beautifully written, so beautifully read. Yet "write" and "read" do not do justice to this--Susie said it best--air prayer, elemental ode in prose.
I see Ruth is out there, I smile. And I breathe.

Thank you.