for Ellen S. Jaffe
1. Night Wind
Although the day had been almost completely still, a high wind comes with the long dark of mid-December. Frost has stripped the wild grape naked, and the barren vine rattles against the gable end of the house. Surely the black maples, long shorn of their yellow leaves, are tossed back and forth, but on this moonless night, the world outside the window remains secret and unknown. How strange that life continues hidden in heartwood and deep roots throughout the frozen months. Even in the far north, where the pioneers would freeze their dead when three feet of frost prevented graves from being opened — even there, life persisted deep underground.
The night is calm one minute, then a fresh gust rushes the house, straining its wooden joints, worrying its shingles. Before such loneliness the fiction of the self is blown away like the frail residue of October’s leaves. I pass my days a character in a comedy, estranged from my true self. But the night wind is not alienated from its self, nor are the spare, yet strong, wild grapevines. Like the roving wind, they are alive. They project their vitality into our human world.
By tomorrow the fields will spread white as a bridal dress, the sun veiled by storm clouds. But tonight there is no solution to this darkness, no solution to the solitude death brings, nor to the heart’s desire for eternity. The snow is at the window again, insistent, calling from beyond the pane. To walk out into the night in December is to walk alone with only love to light the path.