one little god

by tobias crabtree

for whatever reason i love the overhead. i was born with these fancy fingers, this simian form. i reach and clutch for a higher view. i’ve never been dis-allowed by parent nor fear. the fear would be the fall but my hands and feet have proven themselves up till now, and so i trust them with my heart and fragile head. they carry me aloft. and there i sit and watch, like a little god,  the world in it’s spinnings.

there are patterns. maps. lines. tracks. weavings from the earth bound. sometimes the sweetest of views, the passing raptor and it’s sacred, speckled back. to look down into space and see a raven in it’s element is to see it anew.  i dream in flights of fancy, i imagine the world of the birds. the sky is to the bird what the sea is to the whale.  it is the fourth dimension in which flight and gravity interact and create beautiful arcing loops, gut-twisting turns that swing through the clouds and plummet to within inches of the stones that will someday claim every flying thing, every marching army, every twisting fin. the stones are the most patient of them all; they know that each prodigal heart will return to them, will lie down against them and stop.

and from the top of the rocks, i can see the below-ness.  with a little wind and the november sun, i shut my trap and think about the things that i read from the script that the desert provides. there is a pellet from the gullet of a barn owl in the crack at my feet. i see the skull of a mouse that must have been caught in the open. them quiet, strange owls…all white and silent like a moth. i know a cave where a barn owl roosts in the coldest parts of the winter. i’ve climbed past her as she sat in her torper, awaiting a warmer day, storing energy. and i climbed in close as she sat atop a pile of sticks built in the stoney, black hole where two monoliths meet. almost too cold to climb, my hands stinging from the cold. i passed the barn owl close, maybe 6 feet, and she opened just one eye and moved her head slightly. the medicine between she and i was good and her eye floated closed. what a privilege. and for that second, in the eye that was only black and darker than the space between the stars, i was seen. what are the dreams inside that creamy white skull? can you imagine?

but that was a time last winter and not now. now is warm and the sun is sweet. out from my perch, i am moving toward the ground. i am coming down.  from 40 or so feet above the joshua trees i see the lazy j marks left by a traveling rattlesnake. they are clear from here. i follow them to a thick creosote bush and there, in the sand and freckled shadows, is the maker. a group of climbers with a dog are walking the path.  i am watching and i start to say something but the space between is enough to let the world turn on it’s own.  the dog wets on the other side of the bush. the snake does not blink. now i am down and i squat to look at the one that goes without being noticed.  there is no rattling, i suppose there is no need. i wait to see if there is anything more and, without a sound, the snake moves out across the sand, leaving it’s j’s in cursive behind.

there ain’t anything more. there isn’t a finishing point. there is only the perfect distance and the chance that my heart doesn’t decide that it’s too tired to continue. and your heart, too. here’s to our hearts and the rhythm in between.