Last night I walked out into the firmament

Jul 9, 2012


—Calvin Luther Martin, PhD (Winter 2003)

Last night I walked out into the firmament. Ursa major hung low over the eastern horizon. The moon intense on fields of snow. And I thought of forebears who attended to these matters, although this says it too mildly. I thought of ancestors who found themselves within the events of the night sky, weaving it into stories and their understanding of who they are and what life means.

As I thought this, I mourned—mourned a universe grown coldly silent.

The ancient ones lived in a perception I have lost, within a reality no longer taught or learned. (I remember the Anasazi ruins at Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon.)

And I wondered as a historian: am I part of a degenerate race of man, now? I find myself surrounded by things, by endless stories borne along by media and every scrap of paper I encounter. Except that none of this flotsam and jetsam transports me into the reality those ancestors knew—for millennia.

Last night I walked out into the firmament and wondered who I am, after all, and I grieved.


  1. Comment by sue Hobart on 07/09/2012 at 9:36 pm

    Some, but few still get it. thanx

  2. Comment by Marsh Rosenthal on 07/09/2012 at 9:44 pm

    Ah, Calvin, we are not part of a degenerate race of man, although many of them are degenerates, spinning fear into the multitude and thriving on greed. You see clearly through the gift of the light. Your heart is strongly connected to your brain, and reasoned compassion shines through you. Pretenders and dissemblers clothe themselves in the green, holier than thou rhetoric. They label and blame their paths to the quick buck, everyone else’s money, getting it while the getting’s good.

    However they contrive to sell their green religion, it has always been about the money. As long as they are allowed to plunder, they will cavort and regale themselves at auspicious conferences and advance their careers at the public expense.

    People of purpose, people who will no longer allow the windpower folly to colonize the world, must choke off the money spigot of the wind elite. People of conscience must come to the aid of their fellows, the victims of the windturbine technology gone awry.

    The political winds are changing direction and market forces offering cheap natural gas may soon drive the renewable energy dreams into oblivian. It would seem to be the manifestation of karma, if one is fate minded. Or, what is coming is the inevitable reflex of a driven down economy.


  3. Comment by Dick Mann on 07/09/2012 at 11:09 pm

    Calvin –

    A refreshing and needed change of pace — this, and Aurora — reaching for a reality which seems so often remote. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Comment by K. Elder on 07/10/2012 at 9:10 am

    How will you know the difficulties of being human,
    if you’re always flying off to blue perfection?

    Where will you plant your grief seeds?
    We need ground to scrape and hoe,
    not the sky of unspecified desire.
    That hurt we embrace becomes a joy.
    Call it to your arms where it can change.

    A silkworm eating leaves makes a cacoon.

    Each of us weaves a chamber
    of leaves and sticks.
    Like silkworms, we begin to exist
    as we disappear inside that room.

    Without legs we fly.

    Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī

  5. Comment by sherri Lange on 07/10/2012 at 10:24 am

    Calvin, exquisite piece about nostalgia and wonder and loss and memory in conflict with achingly brutal mechanical intrusions, and we know you are reflecting on turbines, and how out of touch this debasement is with ancient stories of our connectedness.

    We have indeed lost touch with the “firmament.” Everything is gobbled up as an asset to be consumed…but Mother Nature has the last word, always.

    Thank you for this poignant piece, which my heart understands well.


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