Sunday, December 18, 2016

"What Endures and What Does Not"

"The biologist drills a hole in the sea snail’s shell 

and slides a miniature stethoscope inside, listens
for the heartbeat: it’s beating, still beating, still beating."

The tide does not rise--the edge of a murky wave laps up to the edge of a mud whelk, half-buried in the muck, then recedes, for a moment, then licks the edge of the shell again. Mostly a little higher, sometimes a tad lower, but incessantly.

Mud dog whelks, by Andrew N. Cohen

The waves now reach the tip of the snail's shell, and it stirs, aware the tide is returning, and slides along the mud again, joining hundreds of others, aware of each other through their scent and their shadows.

In mid-December they are still here, reminding me again what I forget under fluorescent light.

Mud dog whelks on a flat, by James T. Carlton

You can watch the tide as it rambles up the edge of the sea, snaking its way around the snails. You can watch the sun slide along the horizon while you stand at the window drinking your morning coffee. You can, if you are patient enough, see a hops bine grow in June--almost an inch an hour.

This week I will lead a hundred or so young adults to a stairwell window in our school, to let them see where the sun sits in mid-December. I will ask them to make a note in their journals--most will not remember this later, because it does not matter to them, because it does not matter to the adults around them. I will also ask them to leave some space for a second observation later.

In June, we will return to the stairwell, and I will ask them again to note where the sun is.

See? It moved when you we're not looking.
(And a handful may start to do just that...)

(A few of my lambs are, of course, aware already...
but their awareness can be lonely in a world of electric light.)

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