Elizabeth Harwell says Wendell Berry wounded her be reminding her how often she has moved around. She feels temporary, and that’s not how she grew up.
Because when memory calls me back to my childhood, I know that land. I can feel that grass under my feet. I know its broad green blades: fat-bottomed and rising to a rounded point. In my mind, I can split the blades into two pieces and I can remember the way the hanging fibers felt on my lips. I know the yellow dandelion blooms—and not only as a whole, but also, more clearly even, in its parts. I know the feel of the dandelion’s soft petals on the tip of my nose and the mustard-yellow streaks it would leave when I rubbed it across my palm. I can see its hosts of aphids working their way up the stems in crowded lines.
In truth, we do not have homes here; Christ has gone to make a home for us somewhere else, but he has left a well-stocked table for us here to remember him and all of the church.
“Our place is coming,” she says, “our people are here.”
Photo by Valentina Locatelli on Unsplash
Dylan Thomas wrote about the seasons washing over
the Welsh Glamorgan county–the summer so beautiful, the winter barren. Time repeatedly rides up from the coast, bringing nothing unusual, nothing but change. Here’s the sound of a winter thaw.
And now the horns of England, in the sound of shape,
Summon your snowy horsemen, and the four-stringed hill,
Over the sea-gut loudening, sets a rock alive;
Hurdles and guns and railings, as the boulders heave,
Crack like a spring in vice, bone breaking April,
Spill the lank folly’s hunter and the hard-held hope.
Read the whole thing here: “Hold Hard, These Ancient Minutes in the Cuckoo’s Mouth”
( Photo by Bit Cloud on Unsplash )
Pamela Petro talks about longing for a home that is not her’s–Wales.
I’m American, but I have a hiraeth on me for Wales. I went there first as a grad student in the 1980s. I learned to drink whiskey and do sheep impressions (I can differentiate between lambs and ewes). I learned what coal smoke smells like (nocturnal and oily). And I fell in love with the earth. It happened one late afternoon when I went for a walk in the Brecon Beacons. (The dictionary defines beacons as “conspicuous hills,” which is about as apt as you can get.) When I set off from sea level the air was already growing damp as the sun faded. Ahead of me the Beacons’ bald, grey-brown flanks were furrowed like elephant skin in ashes-of-roses light. It soon became chilly but the ground held onto its warmth, so that the hills began to smoke with eddying bands of mist. That dusk was unspeakably beautiful and not a little illicit. It seemed, for a millisecond, as if I were witnessing the earth drop its guard and exhale its love for the sky, for the pungent cattle, the rabbits whose bones lay underfoot, and for me, too. I felt as if my bodily fluids, my wet, physiological self, were being summoned to high tide. The hills tugged on my blood and it responded with a storm surge that made me ache—a simple sensation more urgent and less complicated than thought, like the love of one animal for another. Or the love of an animal for its home.
Here’s a brief poem on the Welsh word, Hiraeth, which is a longing for the past or homesickness. “As loneliness slips in beside …”
Also look over at Pamela Petro’s beautiful thoughts on this word, Deep Longing for Home, Hiraeth.