When Otherness Dissolves

 

When one has lived a long time alone,
one falls to poring upon a creature,
contrasting its eternity’s-face to one’s own
full of hours, taking note of the differences,
exaggerating them, making them everything,
until the other is utterly other….

— Galway Kinnell

 

 

 

I wandered Saturday morning alone in the wetlands of central Polk County. The early sun that carried me south disappeared behind sudden-storm clouds when I arrived. Rain drops hit the windshield as I strapped on my cameras and pulled my rain poncho over my head. My thoughts, swirling, slid away as I stepped from the world of daily news into that of bobolinks calling from meadowsweet perches and common yellowthroats singing within shrub willows. Back and forth and all around, bees and flies and mosquitoes buzzed and whined; butterflies flitted from prairie clover to blazing star to fields of bee balm.

 

 

When one has lived a long time alone,
one falls to poring upon a creature,
contrasting its eternity’s-face to one’s own
full of hours, taking note of the differences,
exaggerating them, making them everything,
until the other is utterly other,
and then,
with hard effort, probably with tongue sticking out,
going over each difference again and this time
canceling it, until nothing is left but likeness
and suddenly oneness, and…minutes later
one starts awake, taken aback at how unresistingly
one drops off into the bliss of kinship,
when one has lived a long time alone.
— Galway Kinnell

 

 

When one is left alone enough, a walk across a wet prairie, grasses brushing against thighs, water soaking into shoes, perspiration beading across brow, rain pelting, then easing, wind lifting, harriers swooping, red-tailed hawks keening, sun breaking through storm clouds, how easily otherness dissolves away, how naturally the transformation to oneness occurs leaving suddenly only the truth of bobolink, butterfly, and bee balm — the wet meadow and life.

 

Western Prairie Fringed Orchid

Kinnell, Galway, “Part IV: When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone.” Collected Poems, 422. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.

4 thoughts on “When Otherness Dissolves

  1. The image of a red-tailed Hawk is what brought me and my husband together so many years ago.

    I’ve been yearning to experience, once again, the “transformation to oneness” and the truth of things such as “bobolink, butterfly, and bee balm.” Your writing reminds me it’s all there as soon as I slow down and make the time to step into it.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Mary! I have to admit, slowing down — especially mentally — during these trying times is not as easy as it sounds. I find that it’s hard to imagine a quiet space; often I just step out the door in blind faith that what I’m seeking will be there when I arrive. So far, so good! I feel fortunate on many levels. Thank you again for your comments.

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  2. I love the Photographs, especially the flowers. The “fringed orchid” is amazing. This is a great period of time to find “oneness” with one self, with nature in all its wonder and beauty. I find this to be so true during this crazy time. I can relax and at least enjoy myself in that moment. My mind, soul, spirit are one with those things which are right in front of me. I often wish I had a companion to share those oneness moments with. You sharing your thoughts and images bridges the divide and makes me feel like I was there with you. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you! The Western Prairie Fringed Orchid was a first for me! As was the ground cherry. Accessing a mental sanctuary, I think, is helpful at all times, but it’s especially helpful during times of high stress — like during a global pandemic! I’m so lucky to have so many places to visit and and appreciate. I am grateful for this privilege. Thanks so much for your contribution to this post!

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