View from Mattie’s Pillow

More news from the psyche.

Still warm, by Alaskan standards. For a few days, temperatures lifted to around fifty above–for some, a hundred-degree rise in two days. Walking across campus, I felt a puff of warm breeze on my face–unfamiliar breeze, unfamiliar warmth. The lightness this brings to everyone’s mood is remarkable. How can temperature alone make such a difference in all the little troubles we carry? Yet, shedding coats, hats, mittens, even for a few days, we move more fluidly in the world, and spring seems possible.

By today, light snow, and temperatures back below freezing, but still warm, for us. As I write this, I’m thinking of the people gathering on the Mall in Washington, DC, and the change of mood and energy so many of us feel at the approach of Inauguration Day. While it’s not my intention to make this a political blog–there are too many good ones already (see Mudflats in the Blogroll for an Alaskan example)–the changing weather here seems to parallel a change of what? Mood? Politics? National intent?

It’s been a long dark journey through a kind of national despair for the past eight years, when the public dialogue has been driven by fear and impulse rather than reflection and reason. Horses can be made dangerous and frightening by humans who react around them out of fear–perhaps that’s also true of a nation. And horses can be calmed and rehabilitated by a calmer, reasonable presence. Perhaps we all long for that, as well. It’s a lot to place on one human being, to calm and redirect the restless herd of our national psyche, but, as I’ve said to friends here, an election isn’t about one person, it’s about us and who we want ourselves collectively to be. So, as light progresses here, we’ll watch to see how light can be progressively shed on us all with the turn of the political season. I wish for Obama all the best tools of horse and dog training: to be calm, attentive, clear-headed, non-reactive, and to lead by reward and praise rather than by punishment and fear.

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One Response to “View from Mattie’s Pillow”

  1. mikey Says:

    Here is a poem I thought you might like…:



    I climbed through woods in the hour-before-dawn dark.
    Evil air, a frost-making stillness,

    Not a leaf, not a bird-
    A world cast in frost. I came out above the wood

    Where my breath left tortuous statues in the iron light.
    But the valleys were draining the darkness

    Till the moorline – blackening dregs of the brightening grey –
    Halved the sky ahead. And I saw the horses:

    Huge in the dense grey –ten together –
    Megalith-still. They breathed, making no move,

    With draped manes and tilted hind-hooves,
    Making no sound.

    I passed: not one snorted or jerked its head.
    Grey silent fragments
    Of a grey still world.

    I listened in emptiness on the moor-ridge.
    The curlew’s tear turned its edge on the silence.

    Slowly detail leafed from the darkness. Then the sun
    Orange, red, red erupted

    Silently, and splitting to its core tore and flung cloud,
    Shook the gulf open, showed blue,

    And the big planets hanging –
    I turned

    Stumbling in a fever of a dream, down towards
    The dark woods, from the kindling tops,

    And came the horses.
    There, still they stood,
    But now steaming, and glistening under the flow of light,

    Their draped stone manes, their tilted hind-hooves
    Stirring under a thaw while all around them

    The frost showed its fires. But still they made no sound.
    Not one snorted or stamped,

    Their hung heads patient as the horizons,
    High over valleys, in the red levelling rays –

    In din of the crowded streets, going among the years, the faces,
    May I still meet my memory in so lonely a place

    Between the streams and the red clouds, hearing curlews,
    Hearing the horizons endure.

    In din of the crowded streets, going among the years, the faces
    May I still meet my memory in so lonely a place. (from Horses)

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