Tuesday, August 19, 2008


No, not the Phillip Pullman kind.

I've been thinking about dust since I got it all over my rental car (the one I'm driving until my minivan is repaired) on a gravel road this weekend. It was on the way back from the Peter Pan reunion picnic, when the cast and crew got together to put the songs back into each other's heads (I'd just gotten the "Wendy" song out of there, and now it's back in again). As I followed the car ahead of me, watching the dust rise and settle, I thought what an unusual sight that is in Ohio. It's always green and wet here. You don't see much dust, even in August.

It made me think of this W.S. Merwin poem, To the Dust of the Road, which I liked when I first read it because it reminds me of places that aren't as green and wet as the place I'm living now:

To the Dust of the Road

And in the morning you are up again
with the way leading through you for a while
longer if the wind is motionless when
the cars reach where the asphalt ends a mile
or so below the main road and the wave
you rise into is different every time
and you are one with it until you have
made your way up to the top of your climb
and brightened in that moment of that day
and then you turn as when you rose before
in fire or wind from the ends of the earth
to pause here and you seem to drift away
on into nothing to lie down once more
until another breath brings you to birth

I've been in places where shade actually makes a difference--parts of Texas come to mind--and the image of wind stirring the dust like this reminds me of being there, far away from all the responsibilities that are about to come crashing down on all of us. The college where Ron and I work is about to start the semester, and Eleanor and Walker go back to school on Friday. We need another few days of drifting, but instead we seem to be rushing around trying to get everything in before our free time is all gone.

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