Like sheaves of corn it gathers you unto itself. It threshes you to make you naked. It sifts you to free you from your husks. It grinds you to whiteness. It kneads you until you are pliant. And then it assigns you to its sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast. All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's Heart.
When I observe Gram, I see how fragile the notion of tradition can be. If I take my eyes off the way she kneads her Easter bread, or if I fail to study the way she sews a seam in suede, or if I lose the mental image I have of her when she negotiates a better deal with a button salesman, somehow, the very essence of her will be lost. When she goes, the responsibility for carrying on will fall to me. My mother says I'm the keeper of the flame, because I work here, and because I choose to live here. A flame is a very fragile thing, too, and there are times when I wonder if I'm the on who can keep it going.
Touch" You are already asleep. I lower myself in next to you, my skin slightly numb with the restraint of habits, the patina of self, the black frost of outsideness, so that even unclothed it is a resilient chilly hardness, a superficially malleable, dead rubbery texture. You are a mound of bedclothes, where the cat in sleep braces its paws against your calf through the blankets, and kneads each paw in turn. Meanwhile and slowly I feel a is it my own warmth surfacing or the ferment of your whole body that in darkness beneath the cover is stealing bit by bit to break down that chill. You turn and hold me tightly, do you know who I am or am I your mother or the nearest human being to hold on to in a dreamed pogrom. What I, now loosened, sink into is an old big place, it is there already, for you are already there, and the cat got there before you, yet it is hard to locate. What is more, the place is not found but seeps from our touch in continuous creation, dark enclosing cocoon round ourselves alone, dark wide realm where we walk with everyone.
I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It's always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too. It widens and deepens as it rubs and scours, gnaws and kneads, eats and bores its way through the land. Even the greatest rivers- the Nile and the Ganges, the Yangtze and he Mississippi, the Amazon and the great grey-green greasy Limpopo all set about with fever trees-must have been no more than trickles and flickering streams before they grew into mighty rivers. Are people like that? I wondered. Am I like that? Always me, like the river itself, always flowing but always different, like the water flowing in the river, sometimes walking steadily along andante, sometimes surging over rapids furioso, sometimes meandering wit hardly any visible movement tranquilo, lento, ppp pianissimo, sometimes gurgling giacoso with pleasure, sometimes sparkling brillante in the sun, sometimes lacrimoso, sometimes appassionato, sometimes misterioso, sometimes pesante, sometimes legato, sometimes staccato, sometimes sospirando, sometimes vivace, and always, I hope, amoroso. Do I change like a river, widening and deepening, eddying back on myself sometimes, bursting my banks sometimes when there's too much water, too much life in me, and sometimes dried up from lack of rain? Will the I that is me grow and widen and deepen? Or will I stagnate and become an arid riverbed? Will I allow people to dam me up and confine me to wall so that I flow only where they want? Will I allow them to turn me into a canal to use for they own purposes? Or will I make sure I flow freely, coursing my way through the land and ploughing a valley of my own?