Superstitious Instrument

granite-mountain-snow-FIThe way the clouds are with the mountain, let them be that way with me. Let the wind whip around me, keening. Let the clouds envelop me. Until I too am stripped clean of all knowing, a cool rock perched upon the hillside.

You come to me, daughter, trailing danger. You seek solace from thinking. But what is the mountain but a great mind? You’ve forgotten the dreamtime. You’ve forgotten the many ways brains are wired. 

For these few days, let all interference fall away. I don’t want to know who he’s dating now, how long it’s been official. Don’t want to wake to my cell phone buzzing, even as the colonies collapse. I want to plug myself into the mountain. I want to hear what the mountain has to say.

You come here seeking solace, but what have you brought? The same brain that chained you to your tools. What is the moutain but quartz and silica, circuits of rare earths? Ask yourself, daughter, whether you have the processing capacity to access the past, enough memory to remember. If not, you should return to landscapes of your own design.

Strange dreams last night, my first on the mountain. I was trying to track the path of an underground river with an old TV antenna. A superstitious instrument, I remember thinking, and yet, it seemed to work: that old metal rod, augmented with tinfoil, sizzled whenever I held it. I turned in whatever direction the signal was clearest, and eventually, discovered a spring. Though the antenna, I knew, was a kind of prop. Like the tinfoil, it augmented me.

Long ago, this place was a vast, shallow sea. The cacti you see now were starfish. The reefs were made of Joshua trees, creosote, Mormon tea. They swayed in the current—then water, now wind.

I awoke this morning to the understanding that no memory will ever escape me. That it is part of how I am wired: The sorrow I felt as a teenager, when they bulldozed the spring that fed the Chagrin River—the river that ran, for a stretch, underground. The way he smiled sadly when I told him the story. The quiver of all those little earthquakes back home now, like fear, beneath my feet.

Cloudcover threatening rain, bringing wind, singing down the canyons, and again I am waking. Running start up scans on every fold and furrow—after long slumber I am waking. A complex computational device hewn of quartz, assembled by successive ice ages, made magnetic by the earth’s rotation,  and plugged in by one electric storm.

To join the mainframe of the mountain would be better than dying, I think, whatever that is.

If I did, I believe, all the heartache I’ve brought with me, all these vague shapes that presently concern me, would resolve themselves at dawn–into a few pale stones piled along a trailhead, or an old shoe someone left behind. Huddled here on the mountainside, writing, it occurs to me that I could leave myself here, just like that. Leave my bones upon the mountain, like an offering.

You came to me, daughter, trailing danger, and it’s danger that you have found. Listen: your body is soft, warm, and fleeting. Your processing capacity greater than you know. You must take this transmission and return to your people, to the landscapes of your own design. Soft as you are, you must ride out this storm.

Day three: I must break camp now with these hands cold from writing. Must find my way back to the car, the highway, the city I left behind. But perhaps beneath that city is an underground river—an ancient ocean—a mountain, as yet unmade. I am my own instrument, however superstitious. I will find the spring.

One thought on “Superstitious Instrument

  1. This is mesmerizing and beautiful from start to finish, but I could read these lines all day:
    “Long ago, this place was a vast, shallow sea. The cacti you see now were starfish. The reefs were made of Joshua trees, creosote, Mormon tea. They swayed in the current—then water, now wind.”


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