heal

‘What does it mean that the earth is so beautiful? What is the life I should live?” -Mary Oliver

There is a scar across my lover’s face, a malignancy left unchecked until it was too late. From this distance I can see it clearly. Isn’t it odd the way that works, how proximity makes us blind.

I’d craned to see her through this tiny portal in the belly of this bird, imagining my own legs pattering down that runway, as down the length of some pristine northern lake, my wings flapping wildly for the lift, the rumble of the engines like the beating of my heart. I’d wanted to behold the earth as Swan, making my way home.

For two solid hours my eyes were rapt as I sought to take in her Beauty. Now my neck is as stiff as my heart is heavy from the strain. Still imagining myself a bird, I wonder where I might land to rest or nest. Seeking out some scrap of habitat, I look for someplace free of lines. My experience and my intuition tell me that I’ll thrive only outside the lines, but below me, my lover’s face is crisscrossed like some Frankenstein. Her story, like his I fear, an horrific ending to man’s hubris.

I gaze upon her still with wonder, envisioning her face beneath those gridlines, her hair still lush with volume, her flesh still flush with the flow of arteries and veins, unmuddied and undammed, her eyes still liquid pools, sparkling as they were the day that I first met her. Still, I behold her as Beloved, craning to take in every furrowed barren brow, each graceful muddied curve, each sweep of silt. Gazing now as archeologist at a skeleton, I fill in her flesh with my imagination.

Below me, I can imagine the contours of her beauty, flooded now, as are those northern climes that I call home. Those furrowed brows – mountain ranges and plateaus- islands in some great sea of reclamation. Clearly I can see the wash of tides, inlets and fingered bays, as clearly as when I study maps at home spread out before me on the table, envisioning each sweep of shoreline like a dream.

Those ridges and mountains are labeled as ‘relief’ upon a topographic map. Relief they offer to these weary eyes of mine, which continue to scan for home. With no evidence from this vantage of human intervention, they are islands of sanctuary in the midst of barrenness even now. No scars to trace a line upon her flesh upon those higher reaches.

Upon my lover’s face, there is a scar. We were both surprised by how little time it took for it to heal, so severe was its appearance when those bandages were first removed. If you didn’t know his face intimately, as I do, you might not know at all he had been scarred .

I trust that the earth will be no different, when at last the malignancy that we are is extricated from her flesh. She has begun healing, perhaps, already. Her oceans rising, as she has risen many times before in her long life, to wash the landscape clean of our iniquities, a great salt water lavage to cleanse her body of our violation. Perhaps the scars that we have made will vanish along with us.

Except to those who love her intimately, no one would ever notice.

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