“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon
I do love a good road trip. It is my reset, my easy button. You will most often find me in the company of semis and darkness; tires conversing with road, road conversing with spirit. Time is of no matter after sunset.
It isn’t often I listen to books on CD. It isn’t a lack of desire, rather a lack of supply. The CD costs more than the book, the book costs more than the eBook, so until my Kindle starts reading to me….
I am 2 disks from finished with The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer, borrowed from my mother. I would be 1 disk from finished had I not listened to track 15 on disk 1 at least 12 times. It was a summation of the direction I had decided to take and I knew I must memorize the words.
I shall not critique this book, nor review it. I haven’t finished it yet for one, and I don’t think I can for two. It will take more than a strong mind to balance this weight. Plus, the author uses the word histrionic too many times. Words like that are best left to their power once in three hundred pages.
I was instantly taken with Henry Stuart when he removed his boots on the front porch of his doctor’s office and decided his feet would know the earth was made of dirt not leather. My bare feet rested on the floor mat, unencumbered by shoes and relieved of responsibility by cruise control.
My feet are often bare. I walk barefoot in my home, barefoot in my yard, and barefoot to the mailbox; I keep shoes in my car because it isn’t uncommon that I am half way to the store before I realize I am barefoot. Henry Stuart lived before no shoes meant no service.
Henry turns to his books for knowledge and answers. In the opening chapter Henry ponders his own predicted death, those who have gone before him, and those who will go after. He selects “Sonnet XIII” in Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke.
Lost in the first phrase Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you…, he is visited by his dear friend who tells Henry “If you believe actively imagining your final days can give you strength then let’s set to it” (Brewer 24). Henry has tuberculous and has been given a year until the consumption consumes him. He imagines imagining his own end will allow him to embrace it.
I transferred the words without hesitation and committed them to memory: I must let my life ring as long as I hold any piece of it; I must give my consent to what I face; I must cease tabulating inequity where none exists; I must allow the occasional freak intrusion of joy into this reckoning.
- I must let my life ring as long as I hold any piece of it – A piece of my life was all I had left when I escaped domestic violence. And tho there are some who seek to crack the bell, it rings still.
- I must give my consent to what I face – I face ignorance, dominance, and ill-meaning tongues. I must again face the man who sold my children to the highest lawyer.
- I must cease tabulating inequity where none exist – and acknowledge where it does.
- I must allow the occasional freak intrusion of joy into this reckoning – More than a smile, more than a laugh, but genuine joy.
I am still reckoning the wreck. I falter, as I suppose is part of journey. Henry’s last year to live, his year to die, turned into his life. He went south to seek peace. I have twice sojourned south. Maybe a dying soul seeks southern solitude to survive. Or simply bare feet.