He was a clod of dirt that the light splits

24 Jun

“‘No,’ he said to Obenchain–but Obenchain was already far behind him on the bluff, his head swaying like a blind man’s. No, indeed. The sky came carousing down around him. He saw the sun drenching the green westward islands and battering a path down the water. He saw the town before him to the south, where the trestle lighted down. Then far on the Nooksack plain to the east, he saw a man walking. The distant figure was turning pea rows over in perfect silence. He was dressed in horse’s harness and he pulled the plow. His feet trod his figure’s long blue shadow, and the plow cut its long blue shadow in the ground . The man turned back as if to look along the furrow, to check its straightness. Clare saw again, on the plain farther north, another man; this one walked behind a horse and turned the green ground under. Then before him on the trestle over the water he saw the earth itself walking, the earth walking darkly as it always walks in every season: it was plowing the men under, and the horses, and the plows.

“The earth was plowing the men under, and the horses under, and the plows. No wonder you are cold, he said to the lighted water: you kicked your people off. No generation sees it happen, and the damp new fields grow up forgetting. He would return home and see his cedar shingles off on the train. Clare was burrowing in light upstream. All the living were breasting into the crest of the present together. All men and women and children spread in a long line, holding aloft a ribbon or banner; they ran up a field as wide as earth, opening time like a path in the grass, and he was borne along with them. No, he said, peeling the light back, walking in the sky toward home; no.”

–A. Dillard, The Living


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