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theodore_roethke

I dream of journeys repeatedly;
Of flying like a bat deep into a narrowing tunnel,
Of driving alone, without luggage, out a long pennisula,
The road lined with snow-laden second growth,
A fine dry snow ticking the windshield,
Alternate snow and sleet, no on-coming traffic,
And no lights behind, in the blurred side-mirror,
The road changing from glazed tarface to rubble of stone,
Ending at last in a hopeless sand-rut,
Where the car stalls,
Churning in a snowdrift
Until the headlights darken.

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I dream of journeys repeatedly…..So, tomorrow, I head back west again.  Via the Badlands of South Dakota, I am going back to Denver, to continue an ongoing chronicle of photographs and writings about growing in the New West, the lost frontier documented in Robert Adams’ photographs.

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And I’ve had The Far Field on my mind, the lovely poem by Roethke that speaks of a mythic journey, one that begins by getting in the car and heading down the road, looks at the trash and dead animals in the road side ditch, and ends with a metaphysical discover of self found in the flowing waters of the field.

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The lost self changes,
Turning towards the sea,
A sea-shaped turning around,-
An old man with his feet before the fire,
In robes of green, in garments of adieu.

A man faced with his own immensity
Wakes all the waves, all their loose wandering fire.
The murmur of the absolute, the why
Of being born fails on his naked ears.
His spirit moves like monumental wind
That gentles on a sunny plateau.
He is the end of things, the final man.

All finite things reveal infinitude:
The mountain with its singular bright shade
Like the blue shine on freshly frozen snow,
The after-light upon ice-burdened pines;
Odor of basswood on a mountain slope,
A scent beloved of bees;
Silence of water above a sunken tree:
The pure serence of memory in one man,-
A ripple widening from a single stone
Winding around the waters of the world.

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This will be the fourth time in three years I’ve gone back home.  These have all been interesting times of self-reflection and inquiry.  I am trying to turn that part of my mind on again, looking to Roethke again in hopes to turn on the visual and mythical investigation of found on my previous trips back home.  All finite things reveal infinitude……

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