Posted by on January 28, 2017

Now Unobscured

(Noetic November And Walking The Sight Lines With Emily Dickinson)

Written by Brian Michael Barbeito

Photography by Fabrice Poussin

January 28, 2017

I told her that there is not much I could say. I told her that the ones she might want to talk to if there were such ones, were far away and in cities and knew more about books or history. But then, by some foliage that still remained, having cheated death for the time being, and some strange faucet affixed to a wall of a building, I figured I might as well make the most of it and show her around. For her and I. Emily wore white and her hair was two moving birds yet still threaded upon themselves like some open secret.

Quiet but not withdrawn, she followed in step and we went forward. I must have made a sight in working pants and keys dangling, almost like a custodian. Now look, I told her, as we rounded a pathway and then saw the entrance to a road that needed passing. I am going to tell you an odd thing, but it might be the most important thing. And I am going to put it first. The poetic and noetic, the salvation and living gnosis or the tumultuous spirit in a sort of trauma due to life itself, are for later, are in fact for you to codify (the laws of the moderns and such if you shall.). I know you to have an acute consciousness, to say the least. What I want you to see is the sight-line. It is blocking the traffic and it is dangerous. This is a type of thing that bothers me. Those feral shrubs should be severed. Use them for compost, for fire, for anything, – but they are blocking. A soul could wander out from here, to there, and meet with an ending.

So we went and in the going found a light footing. I can’t speak for her actually, but I would say so. She had put a sweater over her white dress and though fuller and with proper shoulders, she still looked small. Some spirit that was about her was not, though, and I sensed an eclectic and electrical knowingness. Maybe that was natural for her way and a nonverbal manner of soul. But the world there helped. How so? Well, the November world at dusk, in those parts, has a sort of wind that comes through the tall grasses. It’s, against reason, cold and somehow warm at once. Nobody knows where it comes from. I suppose there could be a lake far off. There are a few actually, but they are a series and not too large. No, the wind comes as if guided from the invisible yet pronounced astral. It brings a bit of dirt and dust up, but compared to the feelings it evokes, well that’s nothing at all to worry about. Emily didn’t worry. Not that she said. Not that I saw. She marched right on and we looked all about; old oaks, frozen against the dimming sky; some lights blinking on from an old farmer’s abode; the earth quaking back behind us from traffic and especially trucks (I think just then she glanced backward some…). I pointed out the long pathways where the coyotes go across, and the coy crescent moon that had announced itself. We might be able to see Venus or the North Star, I proclaimed, but I don’t remember seeing either.

Carrying on and around a bend, I explained the physical and psychic landscape the best I could. I spoke at a medium pace and tried to be clear. The field goes in and meets up with another that is lower. Like a Netherlands field. The paths are at the same time like causeways with nothing on the immediate sides. Now, things are dying or have died but have their own beauty if you can see. You would understand this, no? Slight frost, the old pieces of trees strewn across here and there, solitary, flaxen from the sun, bleached of personality like an old soul, clean and steady and ready for the moon to wash it aglow, to wash it and know. The wind brings itself across from somewhere and has prescience and persistence, but none of the glamour of cities and the secular. It carries something sacrosanct and in-tune, something like a secret that can’t really be told but can only be known in another sense. You got it or you don’t. Less and less have it. And if I sometimes look upon a tree making its splash against the sky, it is as if the tree is moving impossibly fast in its stillness. And it moves for real in the wind for a moment, – and is made to shake yet another secret from its limbs. And what is the secret? Well, it is that we are all moribund, Emily. Maybe you know that. Surely you do. And at first, this makes one feel aghast or at the least panicky. I mean, my God, – our childhood was for this? – This November of the calendar and also of the calendar of our lives? But in the next moment, it’s okay. It’s okay even that it’s not okay. We are going, – we are going from here- the trees and the fields shall outlast us and wait for someone else. Maybe I see a rock or a series of rocks,- and they are dreaded and distinct and nothing,- or maybe I feel the opposite,- that the fields are lit up from below,- with benevolent lights, the light of existence,- and know this can and shall sustain us and all. But whatever is sensed, there is something beyond. And the field can present this. And if you don’t go in for that,- there is always simply the path and the shrub, the constellations and the night owl or day hawk or red-winged blackbird alighting for instances on branches in the spring’s birth. You can take those things on their own terms and be with them and them alone…

And soon we were coming up around the largest corner of the fields and it was time to think about heading back. I had to say one more thing. Since all Novembers here are not the same, some are warmer and without snow. If it is late October or early November and it rains, there is a time before the rain. I look with a soft sort of gaze upon a flurry of red and brown leaves on a large tree. These trees have stayed on and the wind tosses and turns them together and it’s before a large storm. There is a second or seconds when it is forgotten or else simply not registered that they are leaves on a tree shaken by pre-storm winds. There is instead a mystery and it is felt, and intense deepness, incredibly melancholic. So much so, in fact, – that death wins. Death is gone into. But it was no death at all. It was life that was really death, and now, in death, paradoxically, one finds life and that one was and is everything. Now unobscured. Do you understand?

I understand.

She did say one thing more. When we were headed back from the fields there was a lot we traversed. Real dark had taken away the dark-blue hue from the sky and I tried to glance up at the firmament. She touched my arm in human concern and said Wait. I looked down and her gaze was up the way, parallel with the one lane highway but blocked by a tree planted or simply grown independently too close to the traffic’s miles:

Watch out for the sight line, said Emily.

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