Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Changing Water

Journal Entry, February 11, 1861:

I rode into town yesterday and all of the gossip in Fredericksburg is about the changes coming to this country. A new government is going to change our life. The North is going to change the South. The left is going to change the right. The top is going to change the bottom. That is simply politics, and politics never changes. That was true 150 years ago, and will be true in another 150 years. Opposites need each other to exist at all. Logically, there is no left without a right, no white without black, no inside without an outside.

But life; yes, life is changing; everything is changing, constantly. Perhaps people don’t notice, or care, or they resist it, but they cannot stop it. Whether life seems problematic or perfect, it is fluid like that creek bordering our farm, that winding Wilderness Run. Even now, mostly frozen, it appears still and unchanging, but below the surface it runs. At times it runs clear and at times it runs muddy, always changing; always an afternoon’s pleasure for a boy sitting there watching it run. As a child, I watched that water and wondered where it started and where it would end, if it ever ends.

I was a student of this world. Now, if there is war, I will be forced to leave my Wilderness and venture out beyond my world, beyond my idea of this world. Does a student become a soldier, or perhaps I shall become a pilgrim searching for something logical in a nonsensical land beyond this one. Yes, life is constantly changing; I cannot find where it started or where it could ever end.


The water, I had drawn
from the well on Sunday,
rose in a steam cloud
from the kitchen kettle
and drifted dreamlike
out the open window
into the winter sky.

I held my head back
and drank it in deeply
from the spring rain.

This water quenched

my summer thirst
and a joy of recognition
welled up in me.

It rolled down my cheek
as a tear, dropping to the ground
where it joined a fallen leaf
from the autumn tree.

The leaf and the water merged
into the soil to become
the budding oak beside the well
where I had drawn water
on Sunday.

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