"The abundance of berries goes to the birds—for, what use are berries to the tree other than a way to make relationships with birds?" — Robin Wall Kimmerer
Not many words glomming to my insides these days. Bit of a fallow state. Test-patterny. Fitful. Still-ish. Looking at stuff, reading a thing, putting it down, picking something else up. Trails like the veins of leaves. I’ve been sitting down to write to you all week and I wind up in the yard picking beans, harvesting the garlic. I’ve got arugula and kale seeds saved and sage drying, and fewer words in mind. This is summer.
So I had to trick myself, and I’m writing to you now on my phone, in the dark, on a bus shuddering up the highway, piloted by a driver who’s maybe doing this route for the first time, following a similar diverging trail. We’ve made a couple of unannounced exeunts. I’ve seen a few new dusky farmyards. We’ve jumped some curbs. We do what happens and the task should at some point complete.
I trick myself into thinking I’m writing you a text or jotting down a list in the precious laze of July, patios and ice cream cones and swimming in the lake, a bodily concentration that’s hard to interrupt. The dog wants nothing but to chase the bunnies out of the garden, the chipmunks from under the shed, her calling, what she reckons summer is for, what she is for in summer, and maybe one day she’ll catch one and we all wonder what she’d do, ever unwilling to be dragged off the scent, the task, not till winter will her mind be changed.
Fires in the fire pit, fireflies in the bushes. Tension headaches like con trails, the plane long gone. One bat draws its dusky circles over our yard each night. All my sunflowers that turned to bunny food. The SUV with a Russian flag on a roof rack outside Kinmount, Ontario. Carcasses of trees still punctuating the city two months after the storm. Every morning a green tomato sits in a plantless pot of dirt, one quarter of it nibbled away. The garden forging relationship in spite of me.
I’ve been tuning in to the spectacle of the pope setting foot on this continent, starting in amiskwacîwâskahikan, in Edmonton. I’ve been reading his body language, suspicious of my attention to the minutiae, seeing how his presence covers over, and the constellations of authority that surround him, how there’s no way he gets near to the thing that needs saying or it would all crack apart, trail turned to leaf. Turns out there’s a bit of goop in the cavern after all: I’ve had all week in my head the phrase It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I’ve had in my head a few bad apples. How it’s often people with a lot of power who use such phrases.
To end, here are a few bits of crop for this sample, awkwardly pasted in.
1. I’m piecing my way through Tim Lilburn’s new book, Harmonia Mundi, which he’s launching online tonight. Here’s a favourite poem:
2. I’ve got a few new ones in the current issue Event, which draw from family lore and the learning of it, and which I wrote a bit about in my last missive:
3. And lastly, as the driver stutters this bus off the highway, achieving the correct exit, here’s the beautiful garlic, perhaps not quite in focus:
p.s. Read Robin Wall Kimmerer on saskatoons here!