We have just passed Midsummer. August 2nd is the literal mid-point of the summer, leaving six more weeks until the Autumn Equinox. This time or thereabouts (it varies by a couple days from calendar to calendar) coincides with the holiday Lammas, which is the corn harvest. We offer an effigy of the sun king for sacrifice in the form of a doll fashioned from corn husks. We make the offering to propitiate the earth in the hope that she will reward us with bountiful food. Emily tossed off this note:

#962, c. 1864

Midsummer, was it, when They died —
A full, and perfect time —
The Summer closed upon itself
In Consummated Bloom —

The Corn, her furthest kernel filled
Before the coming Flail —
When These — leaned into Perfectness —
Through Haze of Burial —

Just as the kernel of corn, or any one of us, reaches our fullest potential that is the precise moment that we tip over the edge toward the next cycle and decline into death. That potential is the thing we were born to do. The goal residing in our DNA that drives us through life. There is at least one thing we work toward our whole life. The moment of reaching this fulfillment of purpose co-emerges simultaneously with descent. There is no such thing as ascending up and up indefinitely. The cycle always takes us back to the point of disintegration.

Emily says, harvest the corn and eat while it’s perfect. If you wait a day, it’s ready for the coffin.

I hear her talking about the process of writing. Each time I begin a new story, I can feel the energy of creation pushing me through the story, as if a galloping horse has taken over. As though, my DNA demands the story to emerge. As soon as I have put what I think are the last touches or final edits (if these are ever final) there is an immediate euphoria. A distinct sense that I have fulfilled my destiny. Done what all my cells and blood and bones have collected themselves here to do. That euphoria lasts for a time, and then something opens up. A crack, an open space, a deflation, a decline toward death. A conviction that I am only as good as my last story. And all of them, all those words in the past, are as fodder for the pig sty. Rotted husks.

Whenever I go back to read an old story, it sounds dead to me. I can remember the sense of aliveness when I wrote it. The feeling of legs galloping under me. But once it leaves my fingertips, and goes out to the world, it’s as if I don’t recognize the story as mine any longer. Now all I have is the empty space before me that I am supposed to fill. Or grow a new pair of legs.

It never ends, this cycle of reaching for fulfillment then moving into decay. I guess I should be grateful for that continuity. I must say it’s an exhausting process to be aware of. You try growing a new pair of legs out of thin air over and over. It wears a person out.

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