We live between four walls, they are temporary, fragile, often cheap, sometimes made of scythed corn stalks. They have been speared into the ground for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, they won’t hold for long, their very nature is impermanence. While they last, swaying in the crisp weedy air, let’s whoop it up inside! Let’s eat and drink and talk about wandering and homelessness, how great paradigms rise and fall but never die. Let’s go into the rattle of uncertainties, though while we’re sitting or standing in one place, we’re in A Place.
How in-between and gappy everything is! Between the four walls, between the moment and la durée, we are also sitting between our spry and grinding doubt and our aspirations. Against the backdrop of black sky – for in this Sukkah there is no thatch, no leaf cover, no tile, no roof – I see the scintillating stars. Is it true that “the world spins nightly towards its brightness and we are on it,” as C.D. Wright wrote? These weeks of radical chaos make it hard to believe anything except dismay and revulsion. “I heard him, he was washing the world, unseen, nightlong, real.” Paul Celan, is it so? Mood swings are counted not in days, but in hours; the decision to start over can happen several times a day.
We know how many things we claim are random and by chance, and how a flag flying over us becomes tatty and shorn. Identities fall away. The Place, one of the names of God, is maddeningly ambiguous and general, but I tend to like ambiguous and general. I saw a fox standing in my garden one morning. What an indifferent, charged, gleaming animal that decided, after a stare-off, that I wasn’t worth the effort, and wandered off; it was a serene confrontation. This is the challenge, how to live in our grounded groundlessness, our wanderings, in our corn-stalk houses, here, hineini, finding one place to stand.