Islands, the Universe, Home

 
 
 
“You have to mix death into everything,” a painter once told me. “Then you have to mix life into that,” he said as his cigarette ashes dropped onto the palette. “If they are not there, I try to mix them in. Otherwise the painting won’t be human.”

– Gretel Ehrlich, ‘This Autumn Morning’
   
 
 
 
What is this wild embrace? This slipping away of heat from air at daybreak, these clothes made of bird cries being peeled from my body? …
 
Lao Tzu exhorts us to listen to the world “not with ears but with mind, not with mind but with spirit.” Some days I hear what sounds like breathing: quick inhalations from the grass, from burnt trees, from streaming clouds, as if desire were finally being answered, and at night in my sleep I can feel black tree branches pressing against me, their long needles combing my hair.”
 
– Gretel Ehrlich, ‘The Fasting Heart’  
 
 
Order Islands, the Universe, Home (Viking, 1991).
 
 
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