Wyoming Witch Wander

September 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

(photo from the weekend)

Last night, seven of us, all women, went on a walk after dinner, a longer walk than I’ve taken before. The hills were bronze with a coppery glow, and folds of darkness. September was present in the crisp edges and festive preliminaries to longing.

As we turned off the highway onto Cold Creek Road, the scrub began to let out more colors: lavender, mauve, ash, sage. The clouds were garlands of vivid rose-apricot flung against the soft blue.

Look! someone said: a mule deer at the top of a hill, outlined against the sky, almost directly beneath the crescent moon. We watched; the deer stood still; there was no genius with a video camera, only our sets of eyes and memories. Animal talk prevailed, including an informative disquisition on pack rats (White-throated Wood Rat, not Homo semi-Sapiens), and miniature dairy cows, which sadly do not come miniature enough to live in a NYC apartment, producing only enough for coffee and banana milkshakes. Where is genetic engineering when you need it?

After a further uphill stretch I said, “I feel like I’m on drugs,” meaning LSD, and a few agreed with me. The hills had a thousand colors and the color was vibrating; I could have sat all day watching the same place without ever seeing the same thing. Except, of course, that it was dusk and we had to turn back, though this took some argument.

Back at the homestead, Cecilia gave us a singing lesson in the living room. A small circle of women, feeling musically inadequate, were taught the basics of body-as-instrument, listening and imitating pitch. We sang “Home On The Range.” Tonight, we’re learning “Don’t Fence Me In, “ if I can get around to printing out the lyrics.

Summer camp for grownups. I’m very lucky.

Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind
The past is a bucket of ashes


The woman named Tomorrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens at last the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
What of it? Let the dead be dead.


The doors were cedar
and the panels strips of gold
and the girls were golden girls
and the panels read and the girls chanted:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The doors are twisted on broken hinges.
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
where the golden girls ran and the panels read:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.


It has happened before.
Strong men put up a city and got
a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women
to warble: We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened
and paid the singers well
and felt good about it all,
there were rats and lizards who listened
… and the only listeners left now
… are … the rats … and the lizards.

And there are black crows
crying, “Caw, caw,”
bringing mud and sticks
building a nest
over the words carved
on the doors where the panels were cedar
and the strips on the panels were gold
and the golden girls came singing:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The only singers now are crows crying, “Caw, caw,”
And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
And the only listeners now are … the rats … and the lizards.


The feet of the rats
scribble on the door sills;
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints
chatter the pedigrees of the rats
and babble of the blood
and gabble of the breed
of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers
of the rats.

And the wind shifts
and the dust on a door sill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.

–Carl Sandburg


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