Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Coming down the mountain

4 days, 8 miles of walking, 900 miles of driving, 16 hours of flying time, 106 photographs and 7,800 calories later, I'm back. And while I struggle to regain control of my life and find the time to write a long, long post about the last four days, here's a lovely Billy Collins poem that describes the experience of driving in Montana, where deer are a constant menace on the highway, perfectly:

I drive this road that whips through woods at night
always searching ahead for the reflective eyes of deer
who will venture onto the grassy verge to browse.

Winter-snug in the warm interior of the car,
I am speeding in the vague nowhere between places,
an arithmetic problem in space and time
which passes slowly on this long solo haul.
I feed cassettes into the dash, light cigarettes,
check the softly lit panel of instruments
measuring motion, pressure, heat, the arcana of the engine,
but there is no red needle to indicate deer.

If I drill my eyes into the night long enough
I will hallucinate shapes in pockets of darkness,
not only deer peering from the fringes of trees,
but other anomalous animals: bison, zebra, even
fish floating in the dreamy pools of fog,

animals released from the mind's deep zoo,
animals we think we see in passing clouds
and in the connected dots of constellations.
Animals parading through the greenery of Eden,
animals on the turning pages of storybooks.
And always deer stepping from the sanctuary of woods,
bolting across the hard ribbon of road in shock,
locked in death-leaps in the sparkle of headlights.

At home as the motor cools in the driveway,
I will feel these rhythms in the quiet of the house.
I will see the heads of deer in the darkened bedroom
and a white flick of tail in the dresser mirror.
I will dream of the sensational touch of a buck's fur
and rock to sleep in the bow and lift of antlers.

- Billy Collins, 'Driving with Animals'


Anirudh said...

Ah! Wish I could go on such a trip right now.

Veena said...

4 days and 7,800 calories? MR is dieting nowadays kya?

Falstaff said...

anirudh: Where there's a will, there's a highway, you know.

veena: 7,800 calories would be me. MR continued to stuff her face of course. She even made me eat at Burger King.

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Space Bar said...

the billy collins reminds me of 'the moose' by elizabeth bishop:



mk said...

At home as the motor cools in the driveway,
I will feel these rhythms in the quiet of the house.
I will see the heads of deer in the darkened bedroom
and a white flick of tail in the dresser mirror.

Lovely. This I've known. (silence is music too..)But did you not know you cannot talk about pictures (and 106 at that!)and not post a few?

Aishwarya said...

Lovely :)

Perspective Inc. said...


Neela said...

falsie: you do realize that this whole montana thing sounds exactly like ennis and jack off for a coupla days fishin'.

we await, dear sir, eagerly, the post.


Anonymous said...

*sigh*...the whole world seems to be out enjoying road trips, while all I ask for is just 5 little drives -- around Europe, Asia, N. America, Africa and Australia.

Must've been a lovely trip. Have been planning mine (rather unsuccessfully) for a while now. One day..

Here're some of the other nice drives in your part of the world:


But a 4-day trip and only 106 pics?!


Falstaff said...

space bar: :-). Ah, yes.

mk: Patience, patience. Will post eventually

Aishwarya: Thanks

Perspective inc: Thanks

neela: That was Wyoming, wasn't it? And I wish - much as I enjoy MR's company, I'd so much rather have been up there with Heath Ledger. Sigh.

N: yes, it was. The 106 pictures are just what I took with my ordinary little digital point and shoot, it doesn't include the 250+ pictures that MR took with her super-specialised camera with its 1048 potential settings. Plus, well, the truth is that photographs just don't do the beauty of the place justice.

Szerelem said...

I thought it was 7800 calories burnt...=P

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Anonymous said...

That is so true! A camera just fails to do any justice to truly breathtaking scenery. The only way to capture such moments/places is through ones eyes, and into ones soul.


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Anonymous said...

so on a deeper level what is this poem really about? is it about his travels or about his imagination