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One day, while the sky rested, in the afternoon, it fell asleep and dreamed that the sun came and sat very close, right next to it — golden, warm and very, very close.

So the sky reached out and took hold of the sun, and up into space it flew with the sun and they settled together in their place in the galaxy. But then suddenly, the sun fell from the sky’s grip and slid down to the earth again and disappeared silently below the edge. And looking down through the bouncing twilight, the sky saw the strangest thing.

It saw the earth below it begin to expand. The earth stretched! It ballooned in size. It was so big now it was half-way to the moon. The creatures and all the plants looked out at each other in shock. They were separating — further and further from each other now than a moment ago! They cried out, each in its own language.

Suddenly everything was in chaos; all the creatures and all the plants of the earth, all living things, great and small went into motion — slithering, crawling, wiggling, swimming, running, flying — wing and fin and leg and trunk and branch and leaf and every type of appendage and every kind of locomotion was in motion racing across the bulging earth, each powering toward another, some toward their own kind, some toward any other, each one in a desperate battle against a great separation.

The ground loosened! Soil tumbled into the gaps. The plants clutched the earth, but the earth fell away from their roots. Unrooted they collapsed to the ground. And all the creatures now falling down too, and all the plants, falling, reached out for the other creatures and plants falling only to find the others disappearing at a fantastic speed over the horizon.

Bigger and bigger the earth became, as an insane, crazy wild distancing tore across it. And then suddenly it stopped, the earth stopped expanding, and a great hush fell over everything.

Their was a great silence over the globe. Then the sky awoke. The sun and moon were gone. It felt alone. It moved across the earth and sat down by a small creature.

And in that silent, dark moment the sky moved yet closer, and reaching out, wrapped itself around the earth, took hands with all who would, and ached and longed, it’s wings afire, to put a gentle end to the stupefying distance between all living things.

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The Wedding Dance

The darkness fell from above with a silent, heavy chill and tiny fires ignited in the sky.

The first full moon following the vernal equinox rose in the east white hot with sunlight. It was all reflection — all mare and mountain and crater, simplified into a perfect white rose on the horizon.

“I’m round,” cried the moon, preening.

It spun, it basked, it flew in a cork screw pattern, it wobbled, it pulled up its dress around its ankles; it ran up the sky after the sun.

“Wait,” the moon cried out to the sun, “I’m coming.”

“Do you have your light with you?” called the sun, “or have you too fallen asleep?’

“No, I have it,” answered the moon, “I’m ready.”

The earth spun, the moon rose, the sun danced, the moon caught his arm, the wedding procession proceeded.

The stars exploded in the sky.

“She’s beautiful,” the sun called out, “She is absolutely the good of the exceptionally, perfect and superlative good!”

The moon raced now to the zenith of the sky, moving in a veil of light, carrying with it all the eyes of the earth.

“Look,” said the earth, “The stars, they’re falling down now!”

Orion, draped in moonlight, belt all glittery and sword glowing with the great nebulae, fell into the west now, bow first, plunging into the dark sea.

Then brilliant white Rigel and flaming, red Betelgeuse and all their fellow strong men fell into the inky black water and drowned in an eerie, blinking, watery grave.

“They’re gone,” called the moon. “But here come some more!”

And now a thousand galaxies and more rose up in the east with Virgo leading them, attending her like an army of glowing white angels, hot and fierce with a purging holy fire.

The realm of the galaxies passed up over the moon, a flaming, floral canopy in deep space, sprouting through Aristotle’s crystalline spheres.

“The sprials, the ellipticals, the edge-ons,” said the moon, “they are my bouquets. The   stars, the galaxies — they are field upon field of bright bloom!”

Just before dawn planets appeared in the southeast like a glowing necklace draped on the dark neck of the earth.

The moon sat on the water.

The universe gawked.

The horizon blushed.

“Do it again!” came the command from beyond everywhere.

“We will, we will,” cried out all the luminaries,  “tomorrow night!”

 

 

 

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Jean-Henri Fabre

“All the world a temple!” whispered Jean-Henri Fabre with adoration in his hushed voice.

And with that, he fell into a lush fennel alongside the road.

He settled on the ground, his hands behind his head and looked around in slack-mouthed amazement.

Thick, sturdy trunks shot up around him. Gray-green trunks, the color or the great bay rose up from the earth. They shot past him, ascending like water sprouts into the sky above.

He looked and gaped. Sprouting, exuding, expanding green fennel burst from the earth all around him, pushing aside last year’s dry, brittle dead and decaying stalks. Up it shot and fountained into the sky and there it fell, away from the central column splashing into a misty and fine architecture in the air.

“What subjects! What art!” he cried out.

“Well,” he said to no one in general and everyone in particular, “The Greeks must have studied fennel, and then built the Parthenon and the Acropolis. What pedestals here! What columns these! Such entablatures behold — it’s living architecture!”

Up and up around him now the breathing, expanding, multiplying architecture rose, and where it left off, more went up from there. Stalks sprouted sheathing, glowing green, translucent capitols. And from these living caps rolled leafy volutes, vivified scrolls, feathery with green triumph. And up from there, more divided higher, divided again, column upon adorned column — layered, tiered, piled high and running over.

It was as if the fennel had sent down a deep tap root, had sent down a deep straw into the bowls of the earth and had drawn sandstone from below the bay, even from below the aquifer.

“This was inspiration,” he mused, “not from water, but from stone.” He saw the truth then; the very stone itself had vivified and shot out of the ground to make and remake itself in architectural grandeur — in fennel.

“Why haven’t I noticed this before?” he gasped, and continued, with mounting humility, “Look, there is a cornice, looking precisely like a joy! And look, there a finale, quintessential hope!” he said pointing to the yellow flowers in the top of the plant.

“Did the stars fallen to earth and become the flowers?” he breathed.

And looking up saw crowning golden umbels there, like a hundred candelabras, like a thousand yellow flames, like a million stars silhouetted against the bright blue sky, instarred in the great blue dome.

“Or did the fennel stalks rise up and sprout into stars?”

Suddenly he was not alone, and looking up again, into a sanctuary full of glowing faces, Fabre saw that the celebrants were present, and that he was a member of a community of celebrants, each held a piece of bread, and each, a leafy chalice filled with wine.

He gawked. He peered between the great columns.

He looked down a central aisle. There ensconced on the feathery dark green leaves were tiny fuzzy yellow eggs.

“But look, each one an empty tomb, and near each one, covered with orange splotches, a bright green face with yellow splashes of paint and black horns around them. Here and there and everywhere were fuzzy, round faces and long, soft bodies — draped on colonnades, couched on great suspended floors, posted on great overarching roofs.”

He looked. Up went his eyes, bumping over the volutes. Up went his gaze, up over the entablatures. Up went his stare, through the floral dome.

Up his eyes went, out of the top of the fennel, up into the bright sky, up to the constellations hiding there.

And then he said, to no one in general and everyone in particular, “Some peer in on death and and are unmoved, but I peer in on life — and I exult!”

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Fire

The sun began to seethe and boil with activity, brightening along its eastern limb.

Gas filaments pushed up off the surfaces and huge flux tubes full of plasma formed up, giant solar arteries, carrying the sun’s life blood across tremendous plains upon the solar surface.

The sun pulsed.

It breathed.

It roared heat and light into space.

The sun blew up.

Blinding sheets of light, tremendous gusts of pressure, great exhalations of radiation — the sun cast itself off.

It flashed here, it spewed forth fire there, restructuring continuously into gracefully complex Jackson Pollack-like energy arcs. Glowing streams and fans, radiant arches and domes, flaming towers – it was a living cathedral, remaking itself out of light and heat and fire.

Earth watched, leaf and stem and frond drawn in sharp-edged outline on the walls and fences of the city.

A jacaranda tree became a delicate lacy design on the house behind it, every stem and every leaf drown in precise detail on stucco, like the fossil imprint of some ancient, primal fern printed on a rock.

The world doubled, by means of shadows. Copies were everywhere; earth’s cave was full of forms. The earth was a sanctuary, full of icons.

Every carefully poised leaf, every waving fin, every flying wing strained forward and doubled, on tip toe to gawk and wonder.

Earth gaped.

The exploding sun fell toward the horizon.

In the top of the date palm tree, four small mockingbird eyes watched closely. The little heads rose and settled, pushing close to one another, downy chest to downy white chest, little spiky heads catching the bright golden rays, kissed to bed by fiercely departing light.

Other eyes watched too from various corners and nooks of the sea, the bay, the marsh and the uplands — the red-tailed hawk from a pylon, the marbled godwit on the mud bank, the snowy egret in the water, plumes aflame, the morning doves leaning forward on the wires, chests on fire, and a cabbage white, in his mustard, wings ablaze.

Every feather, every wing, every stalk and stem and leaf nearby, every life was a wick lit by the exploding, departing star.

In front of all the living creatures the huge molten globe, in fiery array, sank.

Down through the palm trees the sun rolled, down past the tiny eyes it fell, down it slowly cart wheeled through the fennels, down past fragile wings the fire tumbled, along earth’s airy curve it fell and into the sea it went.

And coming to its end, the exploding sun broke open, as if pierced, and spilled itself out into the sea.

The sun knelt, it sagged, it crumpled down at the edge of the water. Light trickled down its side and drizzled onto the ocean. The sun bled into the swells; it sank down to the kelp and bloodied the bass. It surfaced again and ran in a long, flowing golden river toward shore, riding a swell landward. Frothing to the beach, light soaked into the sand.

All the creatures watched in a stupor. They couldn’t move. They were fixed in place, welded to a leaf or branch or wire. Light pressed them down, fastening them onto the leafy seats below. Their open, pale wings, their tiny little legs, their heads, their eyes were solid gold.

The plants around them slurped and sucked at the sun. It entered their leaves. It ran down their stems. It dripped from their tips.

It ran down the ridges of the butterfly eggs.

It ran down the tips of the palm fronds.

It dipped into the nest and onto the new mockingbirds.

And all the winged creatures and the watching plants and the earth and the water, every raised head and every reclining surface, from shell fragment lying on the shore to wispy icy cloud high above, and every creature in between, all were baptized together for one awful and glorious moment in brilliant, golden fire.

The sun blazed and roared.

Earth gaped.

And obediently, the fire of life fell!

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The Sun

Looking south, the sun cast one arm over the Amazon basin.

Looking north, it put the other, covered with golden bracelets, lightly on the Sierra Nevada. It draped itself upon the earth.

Sliding through the jungle and slipping off the peaks it withdrew to the rumpled Pacific, and pausing there, and reaching its hands down to the west coast beaches, it ran its fingers through the tidal pools. They turned pure gold.

“And there, and there and also there,” the sun said softly, and it laid tender fingers of light across the stirring sand.

We are the best,” said the mountains, always first and last to warm and be warmed. ”

Then the palms and pines along the western beaches whispered, running their fingers through their lovely hair.

“What about us? What about us?” they called out.

The sun flipped its fingers playfully and splashed sunlight up into all of the leafy trees lining the beaches, and seeing this they rose up on their pointy root toes, grabbed pieces of the light and fixed it in their hair.

Suddenly, each wore a sparkling tiara.

“Oh,” the trees murmured softly. “Give us more!”

But there was too much for them to hold.

Big pieces of the sun broke free and sailed toward the east.

The great sun slid along, pulling a shade across the Pacific ocean. It rans fast now towards Asia and Australia, crying out for Europe, calling out for Africa.

It ran, singing out for the Himalayas, the Tien Shan, the Urals, laying itself down upon the Tibetan Plateau and the West Siberian Plain.

“I’m coming now,” it whispered softly to Lake Baikal, to the Bay of Bengal and to the great Sundarbans.

“We are waiting,” they called back, “for you.”

Jealous, the great peninsulas of Europe, the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan, beckoned to the light. “But us, but us, but what about all of us!”

“Fall on our peaks too!” called the Alps, Pyrenees, Apennines, Dinaric Alps, Balkans, and Carpathians,

And the sun, with a total, complete and utter equanimity, sang out softly to the glowing earth, “But you know so well my precious ones from all my time with you, that I … I have no favorites.”

And then it fell with a laughing, loyal, lasting love upon the whole of the great Serengeti.

 

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The Song of the Soil

Once upon a time there was a parcel of unhappy dirt.

“I hate myself!” It said. “I’m dirt! I live in a stupid, dead, empty lot. I grow weeds. It’s nothing!”

But one day with a clunk and a crunch the dirt was ploughed under, amended, opened back up to the sun, trellised, planted with small grape vines, fed and watered.

“I love you,” said the soaking water to the dry dirt, and ancient waters fallen from the stars soaked into the molten fires risen from the core. The soil blushed.

Then this little dirt fringe, this tattered tent of clod and dust, this corner junk yard of the earth — past home of lost leg, corroded coin, seed, shard, bone, spoon, butterfly wing, broken toy — this life-maker and death-eater, this nursery-morgue, seed bag and graveyard, this odd compounded, mingled, magic mix kissed the new grape vines planted in it. Tiny grape roots threaded the dark, welcoming soil pores below them, and small green stalks pierced the bright air above.

And all the elements of the soil danced and praised. Nitrogen shouted, phosphorus hooted, calcium clapped. Magnesium and sulphur began to waltz, and oxygen and hydrogen and all the other elemental voices of the earth sang the song of the soil.

“We love you!” sang the elements, “We love, love you, love you!”

“I love too!” sang the soil to all the budding vines. ” I love you too!”

The elements danced with the soil, the soil with the roots, the roots with the stalks, the stalks with leaves and the new leaves danced with the tiny green chalices of life ascending from the applauding soil to the singing sky above.

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