Walking Upon Waking

Walking Upon Waking

Melissa Dalton-Bradford


The doctrine of this world is decay.

On its ephemeral face the toothless corncob, the rot

of log, the knuckled luster of plane trees

groping leprously at gauze above the wrung mallard

neck of leaves and the downy brown sounds of geese fleeing

and the mango violet molderingness of rooster russeting

pierced through with black-metallic crow-pocked caw-caw

scripting punctuation, an airborne caveat:

All is autumnal.


Cows muzzle-udder the green, their liquid-eyed knowing

their massive dappled backs like torn pieces of the world map

while the bald farmer rigs a heifer in the blueness of his boots,

his red collared shirt, his olive sweater, his thin wisp of graying breath

and the grayness of an old ochre-eyed cat on the crumbling gray

wall with yellow lichen beneath a pewter sky

soundproofed with cotton batting

voices like old oboes pulse the corpuscles through

tissues of watery landscape gravitied in place

lapsing waning sentencing:

This daying-dying earth.


Ceremonial this doctrine of decay.

Solemn, ineludible, effulgent musicing and

Furious quietus.

The grandiloquent silence of this brief stroll through a pasture.


Last week I took a long early morning walk in the hilly vineyards around our village.  I set out with no goal except to keep moving, but quickly submitted to two guiding ideas: to  see things afresh and to find a poem.  Not ten minutes into the walk, I sensed that poem already forming, so when I returned home with flushed cheeks, sweat and frost marking my hairline, limbs still tingling and fingers swollen from the pooling of fluids, I came right to my laptop and pecked out all the images and connections that had come to me in those two hours and in a steady stream.

(Memo to self: take a scrap of paper and a small pencil everywhere.)

This photo of our Luc was taken with nothing more than an iPhone in our back yard during leaf-raking season.  He looks like an imperious, emerging God to me. This particular picture shown broadly though softly across my imagination as I took in my surroundings and walked and walked.

Thanksgiving was that same week.  My mind was tuned, appropriately, to gratitude.  But it was also tuned, appropriately, to death.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter do that to me.  To process this confluence of feelings, I sat down this weekend and read favorite passages from three works either concretely or metaphorically about pilgrims: Plymouth Plantation from Governor William Bradford; The Pilgrim’s Regress from C.S. Lewis; and A Pilgrim At Tinker Creek from Annie Dillard.

It was Dillard’s scrupulous vision that truly seized me, maybe as never before, and probably because I’d just written this poem.  The genius of her analysis of death and decay is worth a slow, meditative read.  So if you’ll please come back tomorrow and give yourself time to read thankfully and thinkfully, I’ll share passages from Dillard and a few more photos.  They’re taken not with some cutsie iPhone but with a serious, multi-lensed air craft carrier of an apparatus, and shot not by just anyone, but by a professional photographer friend with a keen eye.

5 thoughts on “Walking Upon Waking

  1. The high literary standards of these passages are very unique and I sometimes find myself reading them over and over again.
    Beyond that the inset picture of Luc aroused an awesome and excesive feelings of implicit emotions.-such a childish,innocent gaze, emmanating from a pair of bright eyes, set symmetrically at the median centre of a beautiful young face, as if off it, a celestial vale has been lifted.A lovely stare,a guck from behind dried leaves.
    Ula la la.gaze!,emotion!!
    clarke itama.

  2. I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site.
    I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own blog now 😉

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