Sunday, July 17, 2005

Ghosts of Leaves

In the summer we let the vines -- some kind of clematis, I'm told -- climb up the back porch and over the back door, till now, in high summer, a curtain of green hangs over the doorway, and to go out back I have to part it and duck through. I'm always reminded of the beaded doorways of the ramshackle hippie houses I used to know -- strings of cheap plastic sparkly beads, swaying in stale air that smelled of incense, dope, and candle-wax. This living, fragrant curtain was, maybe, what they were groping towards.

It's not good maintenance, of course; it encourages infestation, and it gives the house an unkempt aspect. But I love surrendering the house to the embrace of summer. In the winter it all dies down and we tear away the brown stems and withered gray leaves, and then the window of the back door frames the bones of the ancient, leaning apple tree. But now the porch is all leaves. Martha trains it over the kitchen window, as well; the morning sun throws moving leaf-shadows on the floor, and the kitchen is full of whispering and dappling.

This year the clematis discovered that it could push a tendril through the ill-fitting top sash of the window of the back bedroom. It's grown up to the ceiling, hoping to find sunlight, but not much sun gets in there, so the vine is not green, but pale yellow. It hovers there like the ghost of summers past.

Across the room is the shrine, where the refuge-tree stands when I do my prostrations. Its leaves are always thick, and restlessly moving and speaking, in counterpoint to the murmur of the pechas. Vajrayogini, glowing blood-red and fierce, anklets and bracelets clashing and ringing, dances there on the lowest branch. I wonder what she sees, when she looks at that ghostly vine. I wonder what she sees when she looks at me.


(My description of the prostrations and refuge-tree is here; a picture of Vajrayogini is here)

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