The Mud and the Clay

There’s a kind of barrier that exists between me and nature. I feel it even though I live in a generally quiet area. From beyond my balcony there are hills and mountains, and on clear days you can even see the gleam of the Dead Sea. I myself am deeply connected to nature, and find that it follows me everywhere: it comes up in my writing, my photography, even my dreams. In times of distress, I close my eyes and imagine certain landscapes to calm me down. Sometimes I’m on a green cliff and the wind is blowing hard; other times I’m lying on my back on a white shore and the water is baby blue and the sun is silver. Still, though, in spite of all this, I feel that barrier.

I think maybe being around man-made things for so long can make us cold to the natural world. We can feel like we’re above it. We can even begin to fear it. Today I came across an expanse of farmland, golden fields that rolled and unraveled into the city. The white stones of the metropolis were hazy in the distance, and at the farthest point of the horizon stood those two, familiar towers. It was special, to say the least, so I grabbed my camera and went.

But not too far.

What I wanted to do, deep down, was keep wading through the grasses until they brushed against my hips; I wanted to crouch down like a preying lioness and grab shots of the city through the stalks of wheat. Instead, I stayed relatively near the edge of the field. I thought of insects, of allergic reactions, of the time my brother-in-law was bitten by a snake because he hadn’t worn his protective boots on his farm. I remembered my father, warning me about all the things that lurk.

And so I stayed put. I used the zoom on my camera lens and kept a safe distance from the thing that makes me feel most alive.

There are layers and layers of anxiety that stop me from really throwing myself into nature, but I think for the sake of my art and for the well-being of my heart, I need to start breaking those barriers down. I need to feel bugs tickle my feet and splash in the wind and feel the sun and get sand in my shoe. I need to leave the politics of being a member of society behind and go back to the start, to the mud and clay, and to the God who created it all.

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Angel-light

I watch the blood swirl between my legs
it wasn’t my time, he did it to me
her gaze tugs at my sleeve
please, officer, don’t leave
it wasn’t her time, he tried to do it to her
I cuff him, he’s half-dead
he thought he could smuggle her into hell with him
he thought the red bouncer wouldn’t see
her angel-light burning through his overcoat
they sent her back up to me
I held her hand and took her home
“come, love, wash your face”
three full pumps of soap —
she washed her eyes first.

Forgotten Things

I half-woke at night’s peak
he stirred me, he must have
and the first thing I felt was the breadth of the sky
and the boldness of each star
hinged there, pridefully in their domain;
I had forgotten they were of the throne

At night’s peak, heaven is widest
so wide that it engulfed the bed
and yet that warmth dragged at me
the warmth of my blood, which in sleep means ‘life’
which I knew once I had been drained of
though was somehow still kept breathing;
I remembered this curious fact at night’s peak
and other forgotten things

But they were not enough
not on their own
to shake me from my warmth
so he willed a timely reminder
an echo that met no walls;
I shuddered, the half-waking now full
and the starlight surged
and in its glow, I saw beneath me not a bed
but dirt.