WELSH: In this world a man himself is nothing. And there ain’t no world but this one.
WITT: You’re wrong there, Top. I seen another world. Sometimes I think it was just my imagination.
There are many books that have touched me deeply in my life but only a handful that have cut me to the quick, going to the core of my being. Among those only one is a book of poetry, James Wright’s unimaginably beautiful “The Branch Will Not Break.” I’ve included the text of one of my favorite pieces from that work here…
While I stood here, in the open, lost in myself,
I must have looked a long time
Down the corn rows, beyond grass,
The small house,
White walls, animals lumbering toward the barn.
I look down now. It is all changed.
Whatever it was I lost, whatever I wept for
Was a wild, gentle thing, the small dark eyes
Loving me in secret.
It is here. At a touch of my hand,
The air fills with delicate creatures
From the other world.
I have heard the creative mind described as a hopper into which things must be dropped and then walked away from that they might have time to stew, ferment, and bring forth beauty and truth. Perhaps this describes the creative process, not just the mind. Whatever the math or the logic, my experience tells me it’s true. The quote at the top of this post is from “The Thin Red Line,” Terrence Mallick’s masterpiece film narrating the invasion of Guadalcanal in World War II.
Somewhere between the process of falling in love with that movie and certain images from the dialogue between characters including the extensive disembodied voice-overs Mallick makes use of, and falling hard for Wright’s work I have become enchanted and fixated on this image of another world. A world we cannot always touch, but that sometimes verges on our own. Like a cup brimming with water with the liquid sometimes only just remaining contained, and sometimes spilling out in a rush. Like a light in the darkness, shining through the cracks, yearning to be known. Terrible. Unknown. Glorious almost beyond our ability to bear. The realm of faeries, spirits, rushing waters and deep magic.
“Behold, the light has shined in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” – John 1:5
But it wants to.