Once again, I caught myself staring out of the window this afternoon into my drab, cold backyard and remembered that I had this book, called “Cold Snap as Yearning”. It’s a collection of prose essays, written by Robert Vivian – I would never have read this book except that I was assigned to during a writer’s workshop class in college. Some of the language is beautiful, poetic, and as I was thumbing through it I found this essay – “Hereafter in Fields”. In it, Vivian describes the (mundane) drive between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, and how making this commute everyday made him start to notice the fields flanking the interstate. Here’s my favorite excerpt. Enjoy!
“I would go into them if I could, wandering knee-high to the bend of a meandering stream. I would look into their tentlike gaze for some brief, fleeting notion of grace. But no doubt this is a fanciful delusion, half-crazed, because what they do best they do at a distance, as a moving panorama, the texture of the earth’s body entire and not a particular vale or region where I stand rooted to one spot. I am a temporary voyeur of the moving earth, rolling over it a few times a week, wondering each time at the subtle mysteries of where the land meets the sky, how they meet in changing juxtaposition, and how these work their wonder in fields. Then, sometimes, if I am lucky, I can get the whole feel of it, and I am sucker-punched by grandeur, by my mote-like presence in a world that is meant to knock me to my knees. It has become the difference between hearing and listening, singing and saying, watching and seeing. It’s the hereafter in fields, waiting at the edge of every city and small town, beckoning you to lose yourself in contemplation of the land and sky and your brief sojourn between them, joined by the speed of memory.”
(c) 2001, Universty of Nebraska Press