Deep in a small forest, a murmuring brook reflects the shards of sun sliding through the crown of pines, its whispered wisdom infinitely more clear than the babbling of men holding the reins firmly in distant cities of power.
The birds know this well, sing of it in chorus, nature’s music, jazz scatting that the graying clouds absorb, an always willing audience, and the wind rushing by cries through the trees in the voice of long dead poets whose words offer a truth to which cloistered talking heads have grown deaf.
First published in Pages Penned in Pandemic , 2021
What are words of wisdom from the mouth of the ancient ones. I tell you these are such words. You may accept or reject them as you will. Better still, tear this page from its binding crumple it and cast it to the four winds. Let it be carried off in ten directions.
If you go to a lecture and listen carefully will you become wise? If you go to a hundred lectures are you a hundred times wiser?
Where did the teacher find wisdom, did he sit in endless lectures. Watch him most carefully is he not wise with sleeping, and when eating, when he walks to the lectern and from it? Watch in silence and find his wisdom.
My repertoire was so much wider then for that is the mis-appreciated burden of youth. My bookshelves groaned under the weight of a couple of hundred cookbooks, tomes focused on the apple, fish, chicken, or on isolated corners of what seemed to me to be an infinitely large world. Azeri food seemed a continent apart from Persian, never mind the neighborhood connections. I recall the endless hours spent pounding veal as Escoffier demanded, and when all else failed, a decent cut of beef swaddled in a compound butter sauce, Bearnaise, or Choron. I don’t know if culinary wisdom comes with age, but the demands of an aging body, carefully listened to, calls for the seismic shift, and if allowed a casting aside of marbled beef, paper thin veal, marbled end papers, pages of instructions. I don’t recall what moment to lead to epiphany, the giving away of salmon, taking up tofu and the joy of creating, not re-creating, of paying homage to cuisine, no longer being its slave.
The vines cling to the hillside, the small buds soon yielding fruit but now simply soaking up the spring sun. You dream the grapes are fat, the deep purple orbs holding in their Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and you only wish it would wash down the hillside and stain the sometimes fetid River. The boats flow up and down river with a metronomic regularity. The guides march their charges along cobbled streets hoping some will retain the great wisdom they impart, by long, practiced rote, wishing for the few euros measure of worth. Along the seawall in the ancient town two swans stare at the spectacle parade and offer blessings to the sky God Cygnus that they are fortunate enough not to be human.
“Every book is a picture book,” she says, with that certain wisdom the that comes from being seven, even though eight is far off on the horizon. “The difference with some,” she claims, “is that someone already drew all the lines and colored in the pictures.” She likes the books, she concludes, where she gets to draw the pictures in her mind, change them freely and choose whatever colors she likes at any given moment, and the next time she reads the book, they can all be different.
This Sunday, I know, we will take
another journey through mythology,
today a sail down the Lethe, no doubt,
or perhaps a careful avoidance of the Styx.
He will speak of Thanatos and Mors,
and will tell me not to be sad,
and with his sad smile, I will not be,
and though he is seven, he knows
he has touched me yet again, for that
is his magic, and in those moments he
is Damon to my Pythias, and I will find
that my tears are of joy and memory,
and his smile is the same one my father wore
which is my most abiding memory.