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The Call of Every Day

Must be birdsong or the slightest nudge of breeze kissing your naked ankles and then the soft folds of your eyelids deep inside a dream flowering in an emerald forest with winding carpets of moss to walk in a sacred manner as Black Elk once spoke of in a vision of the one true sacred earth or a butterfly lighting upon a lilac bush with sore feet like a dry fly landing on the rippling seam of a river as a single falling ash or the last period of a sentence composed with utter hushed devotion and pellucid still devotion so much that we drip touch briefly upon forever or it touches us melting the last sliver of ice or hardness in our hearts, oh, just a childhood skip away and Tina’s long straight hair brushing itself in the dark of the dark of such loveliness in sparks emitting their own electricity which shock and jolt me anew each time with a sudden bolt of love’s gentlest fire, maybe even a no-look pass back in the day when I could cover the whole court in the blurring flutter of a hummingbird’s wings zipping from flower to flower, sprig of leaf or jasmine or a cedar branch hanging over the river to give a pod of trout some righteous shade, wild asparagus and how long will it keep coming up in green shoots that somehow grow amidst the thickest weeds and patch of grass—and so child of leaf, child of mercy, tremble child of excitement and the possibility of rising fish within the skip of a flat stone across the surface of any holy body of water, child always who walks and wonders and enthuses in a murmur in the rapt school of grateful weeping and forever playing—all the holy Ws so that the whole alphabet is a-thunder, a-lightning, and a-quaking, a holy bell tolling in the book of the one true living God who permeates and sustains all there is or ever will be, and then the blinking hazard lights of the mail truck stopping at the mail box to deliver bills and handwritten letters from the ones we love and the ones who teach us how to respond in a like and loving manner like two flowers twinning around each other’s slender waists in words that grow all the way to the stars and all manners of conveyance, as Christopher Smart once wrote in a poem before being thrown into a madhouse for praying on street corners as befit his holy foolishness that the wisest among us would do well to imitate so long as the tears are real and coming from the crushed depths of our repentant hearts—and then facing East, facing sunrise and glad tidings and the one eternal truth, the most loving and hopeful trees in all the thrumming world, call again to stand up facing east, a summons, the great sloping curves of a question mark or the D loop of a Spey cast and snake roll and will you surprise yourself today or surprise the Creator with something you will make with your own two vein-roped hands, will you go down Moses weeping even over the last crumb in your three day beard or commence a belly flop in your neighbor’s swimming pool come a-cropper, a-ringa-dingy, a syllabus whose only learning outcome is gobsmacked and overwhelming awe that brings you to your knees and each one of them a bald cap marvel and narrative of awestruck and the Lord is there also, the Lord is there always and for everyone as He is devoted to every last sparrow and every last harlot, every last one of us never once infringing on our freedom to choose good or evil, sublimity or banality, purity or passion (and even the latter does He love in us when we can’t help ourselves because we can’t help ourselves, only He can), and the cries and calls of Ezan and all calls to prayer, how they help us to pause in the great crush of time to offer thanks to the One who bid and made us and stitched us perfectly in our mothers’ wombs, the call and cry and whisper and aardvark of every day, the whisper and the murmur and the sacred Our Father “on earth as it is in heaven” and in fact everywhere that He made for us, this vast playground and paradise which we seem on defacing and destroying, we who seek perfection in plastic surgery and nuclear annihilation and plastic bottles washing up on shores everywhere, oh, we who are so sorely lacking the one true thing that matters, which is the weeping of endless tears for what we have done to ourselves and each other and the birds of the air and the bees in their busy hives, the call of every day, the call of every second and moment, the curvatures of our hearts and robins’ eggs, the call of gratitude and the call of mercy, and How you doin’, bro? or any other call of love and inquiry, long distance calls and the sigh after sweetest lovemaking, the call of a father to his little girl, the call of a mother to her little boy, the call of the widower to his spaniel Belvedere or Belve for short, you know, that call that is both question and answer and even prayer and beseeching, the call to play pickle ball, the call of a cast to a righteous and rippling seam, yes, this and only this kind of call, my love, my joy, my preciousness, my aching and my yearning and my deepest longing, calling out, calling always, calling in the dark in the dark of great tenderness again, Come be with me a little while and we’ll hold hands in the dark with sparklers, calling the dawn into the full-blown light of another glorious and tragic day on this blue teeming earth spiraling and spinning its way back to gentleness again even if the woods are burning and the seas are rising and ice caps are melting, wobbling like a drunken sailor on leave for the first time, trying to find his way back to his bunk on the ship waiting darkly in the harbor, floating in all innocence in its vast majesty, waiting for the tides to recede.

Robert D. Vivian is an Eastern Orthodox Christian who lives in central MI and teaches literature and creative writing at Alma College.

Photo credit: Kelly Wright via Midjourney


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