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Amber Paulen

To Venus

Mrs. Roberts was a white haired matron who stood before my class when I was eight. The crevices of her skin bore her witness to the passing of time. Her voice was gentle but lifted to firm when need be and when she read to us it became as animated as the impending drama of her chosen pages. It is to Mrs. Roberts I credit my first wielding of my pencil and the introduction to the fabulous Roald Dahl — up until then I was reading Laura Ingalls, what a jump! It was Mrs. Roberts who one day showed me, the sky.

I was no stranger to nature, I believe that one knows it well when growing up on a farm. But maybe, before that day, I had taken it for granted; maybe I had thought that nature just showed up: one day snow, the next day sun. I was well aware of its unpredictability but I had no knowledge that anything up there was a creative element all to itself; how there swept white and grey, purple and pink, black, water, ice, storm, wind across the immense palette which is the sky.

On around the first day of fourth grade Mrs. Roberts brought the class outside and said, “Look up.” In my memory I stood alone from that moment on for I had seen for the first time white clouds being brushed across a cerulean sky. Movement! The clouds! It was a revelation to me. I dare say, I never again saw or felt the same. I had looked up with child’s innocence through to the great gears of our universe, I had seen through our measly and temporary human machinations into something so solitary and big, so outlasting, so omnipotent that not even martians could seem strange to me.

That clouds creep across the sky by forces—picked apart by the technicians of science, divesting it of inherent mystery and power—mysterious forces, unseen forces is yet preserved as a wonder within me. And so I want to stare at the grass and stare at the clouds and stare at the branches with leaves or without leaves and feel how the wind rustles such gifts of nature just so. . . because then, I am inexplicably drawn closer to the great heart I feel beating through me, through the universe and beyond…

The astronomical world is not all there is. We are in touch with other dimensions, other levels of life. And among the powers that spring from these other levels there rises up one Power,…, a Power that is neither Capitalist, nor Communist, nor Fascist, nor Democratic, nor Nazi,?? (nor Christian, nor American, nor Muslim, nor Italian, may I add) ??a Power not of this world at all, but capable of inspiring the human soul with the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. —John Cowper Powys, Autobiography

As I stood with my neck craned back in naive wonder in the realization that clouds go their way across the sky, I “saw” into that “other level,” maybe for the first time. I had sight that could make of weather, of the sky, of all elements much smaller and much bigger, a continuity that ground me into the earth, into a mystical actuality that not even formal school could pound out of me. It is bliss and it is beauty.

Now, when I see the movement of the clouds, the less I understand that which is written and the more I understand that which is not. Glory! Glory! Give thanks on high!


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