title: Emily and the Angels
In the notes for page 10 I talked about the pin that is the source for the angel image and about the attention to making an image that is real for me, not cliche nor too easy. Part of that question, for me, is exploring what is holy. For me holiness is rooted in the material of life. Annie Dillard writes wonderfully from this perspective. A holy life includes the pain and fear as much as it does the sublime. How do you make an image about that? How do you think about it and how do you live it? Emily is one of my most important teachers about these thoughts.
After hearing on the radio news
of the beautiful indigo bunting,
of its luminous blue-green splendor
that is visible only with the sun
at your back, I see one that very night
standing calmly on the lawn of a dream.
It knows full well how strange and rare
it is, knows it may live its days out
before anyone sees. As though
the world was made not to be noticed,
as though God had some job for us
beside seeing, as though eyes were given
for making the right turns and keeping
the rows straight. This is romantic,
isn’t it? What can I say.Some dumb gritty pressure,
habit or ideology, is warping me
toward a cautionary space where the birds
are all robins and grackles, beautiful
not even to each other, noisy
and jealous of their turf,
sure that if there is a God
he has done nothing for them lately.
I hear a strange bird call and
look toward the sun and see
a dark shadow, a figure that shakes
itself off to a further branch
before it even hears me looking,
to remind me that what is given in dreams
should not be expected again.
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