Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mussels - February 8, 2010

......in the slow

washing away of the water

in which they feed,

in which the blue shells

open a little, and the orange bodies

make a sound,

not loud,

not unmusical, as they take

nourishment, as the ocean

enters their bodies.

...I choose

the crevice....

Even before

I decide which to take,

Which to twist from the wet rocks,

which to devour,


they make a sound,

not loud,

not unmusical, as they lean

into the rocks, away

from my grasping fingers.

Once again Mary speaks of song, as in the "Three Poems for James Wright." The song is in feeding and being fed upon a like, and it is the same song, the song of the universe. I am reminded of the closing lines of the novel, "The Road" from Cormac McCarthy,

Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the fow.. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculite patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not to be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

Even in extinction and apocalypse visions, there is a song, and it is the song of the universe. This is a composition where death and suffering does not ring a chaotic note, but blends with harmony into the symphony of the stars. The mystery is how to hear the music as it forms the melody of our individual lives.

What is the story you tell of a cycle of nourishment where death turns to life? If it is all a song, what then do you make of the notes of The Holocaust and Haiti?


  1. This selection reminded me of a turning point in my life and your question gave me another idea. I will begin with the song of the universe. As a very young child of my time I had my tonsils and adnoids removed. Later on in the school screening hearing test it was discovered that I had a hearing loss. The specialist doctor determined that the adenoids had regenerated and covered my eustachian tubes. It was an easy fix to use uranium radiation to shrink them and open the tubes, restoring my hearing. In my high school, composition writing was stressed for we who were in the track leading to college.
    On one 'in class' writing assignment I wrote about all of the sounds I could now hear that I hadn't before. The mussels clacking against the rocks would have been one. I remember I wrote about things like the sound of the wind and rustling leaves, the sound of snow squeaking as one walked, and the high pitched songs of birds up in the trees that couldn't be seen, but only heard. The teacher was touring the room monitoring our writing and making suggestions. As she read what I had written, tears began rolling down her cheeks. All she could choke out was, "You are mature beyond your years." This was the first that I realized my thoughts could effect someone else. It was the beginning of the repair of my self concept that my mother had carefully destroyed. I value the sounds of the universe and am storing them in my mind, so I can reference them when age leads to hearing loss again.

    The low notes of the Holocaust and Haiti are thumping loudly, beating in a minor key that makes the heart shiver. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around such events, one perpetrated by man and the other a function of the living changing earth. Perhaps eons from now the inhabitants of earth may dig up fossils of our skeletons and wonder what happened to kill so many people. Or perhaps 'dust to dust' will eventually recycle the atoms and molecules causing the waters of the carribean to have even more beautiful sea life nourished by our disaster and the cycles of life and death even of planets and stars in the universe.

    An aside:
    My son had an important part to play in helping Haiti. His company coordinates and accomplishes taking phone calls such as those to take orders for products advertised on television. As the company grew my son was hired to design and build a larger network that could handle more calls at a time, enough storage to hold past and future records, and not break down with heavy volume. He filled an entire building with the network he designed. The first telethon to raise funds for Haiti was the first real test of his network. It came off without a hitch as did the even more recent "We Are the World" telethon. No phone calls were lost to network errors. Everyone got through. Pride is not a big enough word to describe my feelings.