Saturday, April 08, 2006

The silences between the leaves


You must enter in
To the small silences between
The leaves,
You must take your time
And touch the very peace
They issue from.
–John Moffitt
(To Look at Any Thing)


Mostly, we don't. Far easier to let the eye skim over the leaf and note the color, texture, time of year. Very young children know to turn the leaf over and examine the bugs that live in the spaces between the veins. Yesterday a group of first graders and I painted–tempera on corrugated cardboard–echoing the shapes we saw at Aztec Ruins National Monument. At first, I found myself engaged in paint control. Then I let go, and that's when their work began to grow. It gets easier with practice. All you do is listen for the silences. You don't have to fix them. It's a little bit like living with questions instead of rushing headlong toward answers.