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intimacy 90 absence and light Narcissus, there are three persons in your mixed theology: the father, who is the past; the son, the present moment; and the holy future, hovering like a guest at the door. And there are more persons than the man you šxate upon, the erotic and the ordinary face glowering in your pond. Instead, your body is all laid out in array, glittering with cities and marshes, unconcerned whether to subject itself to our marks and the clumsy turns of our brushes.What love occurs when time, in its true capsule form, swims in your pool so smoothly as not to be noticed, and so certainly as not to be denied. This is your body, Narcissus, like the šsh we call Christ; like the eel, blind in its purpose; and like the sea snake haunting our inarticulate ships. In the end, even your corpse will be beautiful: your oval features settling like silt into the hollows of your skull, and your gorgeous torso, and your swollen thighs and calves.We will cradle you as best we can, even as your veins collapse, even as your body adapts to its new extremes . In the meantime, what is there to ponder but my form in a pond, and the iris stems about to unfurl? Crickets and jewel-like frogs šll the air with pointillist sound. A newt is rising, undulating up from the silty bottom, its shape and features growing larger and ever more distinct. As it touches my re¦ected face, I project its image into the future , where the newt is the size of a human, where the newt, still a newt, is a human, joyously šlling its lungs. i n t i m a c y m e d i t a t i o n : thir ty-one Upper Klamath Lake is the largest lake in Oregon. Cradled in its dry and reddish basin, it has the feel of a desert sea, the water’s silver or mercury cast suggesting a metallic indifference to life. And yet Upper Klamath Lake is infused with life, from its hordes of insects to its hefty rainbow trout to its profusion of birds. The lake evokes the paradox of an animated void. And so I come here to experience the con-¦ation of categories I hold too dear, or, more simply, to paddle among the reeds. Late September, and the resort at Rocky Point is quiet. I’m putting in at a large marsh that borders the lake, near empty cabins, and aspens that are just turning for fall. This morning the area was jarred by an aftershock from a recent earthquake, and conversations are still tentative , as if we’re suspended in a mystery that we know may have no out- 92 absence and light come, at least in our small time. Two kids are playing on the cement boat ramp, throwing stones into the water. Their parents are sitting in a sports car, wearing city clothes. As I launch my canoe into the bay, I wonder at the sense of displacement I feel. As plates slip beneath us, so we slip into strange crannies, under enormous pressures. We lose sight of the larger earth as we sequester our fears under shelves. I’ve found myself in such cramped billets, in such odd postures, that it’s a wonder I’m here to stretch my muscles, to extend my arms over open water. But the marsh does not allow openness for long. Eventually I’m surrounded by bulrushes, whether I wish it or not. Dragon¦ies clatter in the reeds, and an occasional wren hops from stem to stem. The reeds are remarkably gradated, from a deep green at the tops to a golden yellow , palest at the waterline. My little wake re¦ects the sun and causes ripples of light to ascend and descend the stems simultaneously, like the German Christmas water lights that entranced me as a child. In fact, the marsh as a whole reminds me of a clutter that brought me, years ago, a quiet joy. In my little bedroom, I’d surround myself with the objects of my life—clothing, magazines, pillows, toys—and I’d thrive in their midst. I regarded my environment with the kind of absent attention so natural to children. Every wrinkle, every fold, held an energy that an adult would describe, dryly, as magic. So the water path twists to and fro, and the vertical jumble of...


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Subject Headings

  • Human ecology -- United States -- Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges -- Philosophy.
  • Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges -- Environmental conditions.
  • Human ecology -- Religious aspects.
  • Marsh ecology -- United States -- Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges.
  • Philosophy of nature -- United States -- Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges.
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