Seasonal living and the sensual, sensate life.

When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone

Prairie Chicken
People keep asking how I am settling in to prairie living. 

I could tell them about the long fall, astonishing for its temperate days and nights, that I sleep with the window open and have scarcely worn anything covering my legs from October to December.  Or, that I feel like I’ve plummeted half a dozen climate zones instead of just two, and, disappointingly, my commute to work is not one minute shorter than it was when I snaked 3000 feet down James and Lefthand canyons to Boulder–only now it’s pocked with traffic lights and lots and lots of cars.

But that’s not what my friends are asking, I know.  They want to know how I’m settling in to living with Greg. 

elvis and me
I’ve long said my chop wood, carry water lifestyle on top of Overland mountain among deer and coyote and fox was a bit legendary among my flat land friends, but so too was my single all these years life.  Before I met the city-dwelling boyfriend, it was just me and my dog, elvis, and before that, just me. I’ve spent most of my years bearishly independent and, with the exception of the obligatory 20s and early 30s roommates, living alone.  That I moved in with my artist-lover is nothing short of a bolt from the blue.

It all feels a little strange.  Greg and I have taken to saying to each other “Hey, we’re living together” in the kind of surprised tone we used when we saw a rare pair of ringed neck doves out of their elevation and at the mountain feeder last winter.  Older and having lived a long time alone, we’re both still returning to “the place where one’s ties with the human/broke, where the disquiet of death and now/ also of history glimmers its firelight on faces” (from “When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone”).
Breakfast in bed:  One great thing about living together

There are those times in your life when you blink and things have changed. Greg and I have a new home together on the prairie where we wake to the embrace of each other’s arms and watch pink clouds light lighten the winter sky.  We are developing a routine of work and making food and art, he in his studio and me in my office, and it’s all new and good and just a bit odd, like a pair of jeans you haven’t quite worn long enough.
 
There are other changes too:  This morning I found out Galway Kinnell, the writer of the previous lines of poetry, had died.  In the flurry of moving and trying to get settled in, the news, now almost two months old, escaped my notice, a blossom now withered on the vine.
“I want to be reminded of the tastes of this life, the range of flavors and possibility, of Kinnell’s lovely lines:  ‘they don’t make love, but are earth-creatures/who live and…/fuck one another forever if possible across the stars.'” (“The Waking”). 


Kinnell is one of the poets Greg and I fell in love to.  He is one of the great writers of frank, sensual love poems. We’ve often taken his books on picnics and trips, his mountain-like poems dotting the landscape along the way.  And I have long taken Kinnell’s “The Bear” as a model for how to be an artist in the world:  You must stalk the thing you love, you must become it. 
Arugula salad with shaved parmesan

I have made an art out of being alone, out of taking silence and weather as my only lovers.  It’s time to reenter the world “to stand/ in a light of being united”:  Wherever Greg is, I am, and we are together: “kingdom come.”  Tonight, my love and I will celebrate the inspiration of a great poet.  There will be verse and the crisp taste of cava paired with something earthy like smoked oysters and a bit of the duck pate I have left from France on a good crusty baguette.  I’ll make arugula with truffle oil, lemon and shaved parmesan–more earth mixed with the slightly bitter and bright taste of fresh herbs. I want to be reminded of the tastes of this life, the range of flavors and possibility, of Kinnell’s lovely lines:  “they don’t make love, but are earth-creatures/who live and…/fuck one another forever if possible across the stars.” (“The Waking”).  So there will also be Chicken alla Diavola, an Italian preparation I’d overlooked until now, a dish astonishing in its simplicity and taste. 
Chicken alla Diavolo:  “You must stalk the thing you love, you must become it.”

The butterflied chicken lies, even now, under a cloth in the kitchen rubbed with coarse black pepper and drizzle with olive oil and lemon until it’s time to grill and eat its succulent and peppery goodness along with the greens.  In the end, there will, of course, be chocolate and more poetry—“the language the same in each mouth.” 


Goodbye dear friend, and my old life.  Welcome my new.
from “When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone” by Galway Kinnell

When one has lived a long time alone,

one wants to live again among men and women,

to return to that place where one’s ties with the human

broke, where the disquiet of death and now

also of history glimmers its firelight on faces,

where the gaze of the new baby looks past the gaze
of the great-granny, and where lovers speak,
on lips blowsy from kissing, that language
the same in each mouth, and like birds at daybreak
blether the song that is both earth’s and heaven’s,
until the sun has risen, and they stand
in a light of being united: kingdom come,
when one has lived a long time alone.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: