30 Jun
Posted in: Books
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Random Treasure

I was at the magnificent Chapel Hill Public Library over the weekend, looking for a poem I had heard quoted on a recent dharma talk, when I was drawn to a little red spine, on a completely unrelated shelf. It read: Things That AreI stopped and opened it up.

It was a little gem! A collection of essays by Amy Leach, her first book, and it starts like this:

“Usually all we have to do when we go a-conquering is build a boat, find a benefactress, recruit a ribald crew, and wear glinting helmets.”

I love that! It continues:

“….Even with our fine record of conquest, there remain a few things we do not have atlases for, like tomorrow and the rain and the gods and donkeys. This is the sweet stuff of gambling–the chancier the better.

“Betting on wild donkeys at the Kentucky Derby is even more fun than betting on thoroughbreds: with wild donkeys from the salt flats there are no tired conventions like ‘early moderate tempo’ or ‘tactical speed’ or even ‘forward progress.’ A donkey derby is nothing but upsets, from start to finish. And betting on the gods is better still; it feels like placing bets on Thelonious Monk’s ten fingers–which finger will play what key next!

“Tonight, on this latest antecedent of tomorrow, it is starry out and I am not in a conquering mood. Come and miss the boat with me. Come and play some guessing games. We’ll read aloud the illegible electric green script of the northern lights; we’ll speculate about which star in the next ten thousand years is going to go supernova. Then we’ll listen to a recording of ‘Epistropy.’ I’ll wager on his left thumb, you take whichever finger you want, and with the mad currency we collect from each other I’ll buy you rain, you buy me snow, and we’ll go in together for sunshine for the grass and the clover and the delicious prickly thistles.”


How happy I am to have set out toward my destination and to have arrived at yet another.

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