The candles flicker and incense curls up around the icon of Christ Pantocrator. The teacher. The Word. Air currents I am too dense to feel carry the lavender scent past the icon out the open window to the tiny gray bushtit who for two days now has flitted against the reflection of the sea-glass tree, trying to get in. I watch her as though she is my soul attempting to penetrate the membrane between worlds. "Fly the other way," I tell her, frightened she will break herself with the effort to realize her illusion, "turn towards the tree itself, towards the open sky."

"Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood," prays the poet, and I with him every day or so. But how does one distinguish falsehood from a paradox? Look back upon your life: do you know? Do you see how desire twines with vision? And what is it anyway that we call a breakthrough? "It's a reflection," I tell the bushtit; "you can't break through; it's glass; it's a mirror; you will kill yourself. Turn the other way."
There's something here I can't find words for. Is the breakthrough in the turning?

But even as I wonder that, along comes another poet, Anne Carson, who tells me, "The outer walls of God are glass."

And I am left with metaphor and paradox again.


Jan said…
What a wonderful metaphor! Thank you.
Thanks, Jan. Glad to see you here.
Jan said…
Christin, where do you live in Oregon? In the 1970s my husband and I lived in Corvallis, because he was getting his PhD. at OSU. While there, I taught school at the Eddyville school, which had grades 1-12 all together. Then we moved to TX.

Being originally from Bellingham, WA, we miss both Oregon and Washington.
Stratoz said…
I am going to borrow that Anne Carson line... thanks
Jan, I live in the Siskiyou Mountains--southern Oregon. I once lived in Port Townsend, WA--and traveled to Bellingham off and on. it's lovely there. Did you read Annie Dillard's THE LIVING, set there?

Stratoz -- The Anne Carson quote comes from her book: GLASS, IRONY AND GOD. Well worth your time.
Robin said…
I like that line very much, "The outer walls of God are glass." Wondering what it means? God is reflective, transparent, fragile, distant? God gazes but does not reach out or through? We can look but not touch?

I'm not expecting an answer;I'm just mulling it over.
The glass image must be multi-faceted, I think. That's what makes it so powerful. My friend, Alla, wrote in an email:
"I love the pict of the bushtit at your window. What a thing. Platonic meditation on mimesis versus Form Itself, which is reality as reflection, but still with substance, tree and sky that will not break like glass. The skin of God is glass, eh? Breakable God. Transparent God. Stained glass God. Like us, broken, transparent, no place to hide, stained and exquisite all the same."

As to what Anne Carson might have meant. . .

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