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  • Credences of Summer


    Postpone the anatomy of summer, as
    The physical pine, the metaphysical pine.
    Let's see the very thing and nothing else.
    Let's see it with the hottest fire of sight.
    Burn everything not part of it to ash.

    Trace the gold sun about the whitened sky
    Without evasion by a single metaphor.
    Look at it in its essential barrenness
    And say this, this is the centre that I seek.
    Fix it in an eternal foliage

    And fill the foliage with arrested peace,
    Joy of such permanence, right ignorance
    Of change still possible. Exile desire
    For what is not. This is the barrenness
    Of the fertile thing that can attain no more.
    — Wallace Stevens [1]

    Below the upper reaches of this creek canyon with an expanse of petroglyphs on its ledges and boulders the valley widens in an embracing V, sweeping out to the east and south.  In this sloping valley most of the old junipers clear cut not too long ago, then the land burned. The hard crinkled stumps bear blackened testimony to a particular kind of credence. This is Oregon. A state where thousands of acres of old growth Juniper trees have been clear-cut in recent years with the blessing and support of the federal and state governments. Credence shaping absence.

    The petroglyphs marked here appear to span activity which occurred at least sporadically over thousands of years. This speculation is based on styles, placement, and patina — and drawing from on-the-ground experience with hundreds of other sites.  A guess. Without solid dating, understanding the sequences of plants and animals -- the living communities the native americans may have encountered, participated with, and exploited remains uncertain.  We do know the Juniper tree is native to these lands and has adapted and shifted its own way of being and becoming, its locales, elevations, and densities as climate changed. And will continue to do so.

    [1]  Poem II of Credences of Summer, a series in the collection Transport to Summer (1947)