undercurrent

by tobias crabtree

i have a friend whose son was born with a hole in the top of his head. it was a home birth and the little guy came out before the skull had finished growing closed. the mother was in rough condition following the troublesome labor and the father, under the urgent circumstances was faced with a frantic drive to a distant hospital with his newborn son. as Scotty tells me this story, we are sitting under a sea of indigo, the dreamtime stars are spilt and spread overhead, giving hints of the existence of a forever that we simply can’t wrap our heads around.

Scotty told me that on that drive to the hospital with little Orion in his car, he spoke to the universe entire. he called on the stars and all the mysterious machinations and told them he was on board with it all. Orion is maybe around 10 years old these days. he more than made it. he’s a spitting image of his dad and is also one of my good friends. the stars knew what they were doing, they still do. we don’t run things here.

three days ago i was out in the desert on the dry lake bed. i imagined back a million years before that. the world takes her time and her changes are always in style. i wondered if i would be in deep water, under the lake, if i could time jump and be here when things were then. such sweet mystery. such simple thoughts. while i thought about this stuff i was looking up into the blue, flat on my back. a line of buzzards, turkey vultures to be exact, were flying overhead. they were flying in layers, some only a couple thousand feet up and others almost in the jet stream. the sun had set, but the flapping rooks were still in the full light of the sun as it bent around the world from it’s 90-some-million-mile perch. not a mile distant, on the edge of the old lake is a spine of granite that jumps up a few hundred feet off the floor, as the buzzards reached it’s mass they began to swing into circles, some clockwise, some otherwise. tipping their 8 foot spans with nary a flap, they climbed the swirl of hot air and in doing so they allowed me to see the invisible thermal, alive with hundreds if not thousands of their kind. i’ve read that turkey buzzards have incredibly sensitive noses, able to smell a carcass over the panels of the wind from miles away. as i stared up at them, i wondered if they could smell amazement. i hoped so. the sun was sinking lower, the birds were climbing higher, their wings blinking a beautiful red as they turned their bellies at the light. the line of buzzards started from the top of the swirl and they continued on some secret journey that might be whispered about in the rookeries where the dark trees limbs bow from the weight Cathartian bodies as they shift and blink and wait for dawn.

i heard some guy talking about a thief that had been pointed out among a crew of workers. he was making excuses for the fella whose character was in question. he said something about how we just needed to keep our eye on him and he used the analogy that “vultures fly over us all the time, we should just let them pass.” i was disgusted with his comparison of some dude who steals wallets and money and tools to such an amazing bird as the turkey vulture whose name, Cathartes, means purifier. seems like we’ll use any means necessary to drag the animals into our nasty habits. anyway, i walked away thinking that i didn’t trust either one of those dudes, and also feeling righteously akin to the vultures myself.

notice: we humans are on this world, it’s our spaceship. it is not limitless. with or without us, it has an expiration date and the quality of our stay here is our own responsibility. the milky way galaxy is our home as well. the cosmos is spread out like a blanket for us to play on, night after night. our fortune is enormous but we are lacking in gratitude. we gain so little from our blinking pads and our fancy pants, while an entire universe waits for us to use our senses to see into everything that already is. beauty fades, strength wanes, relationships crumble, families grow up, jobs get mundane, eyes will fail, but life is a gift till the last breath. count your lucky stars that you were ever here….

(i wrote this while thinking of my little buddy, Orion, who made it aboard. and last night, under a late night sky, i saw the Hunter up in the sky, Orion with his bow, and i thought of the wonder of it all. i hope for very little because hope is difficult for me to really believe in, but i must hope for the children, that somehow a wonder and respect for the world can be restored. so that they can swim in oceans that are not caustic and walk through the woods that are not broken and drink from springs that bubble up in the moss where the bull elk still bugle and the grizzlies still rub their shaggy backs against the trees.)