One might be weary of flesh. One’s own, another’s. Flesh of neighbor, stranger, passerby. Flesh of the real or the imagined lover, or secret flesh that mind and heart deny. One might be shut of it, freed from the nerve, but flesh is merciless, confines us, binds us to our servitude to cleft and curve. Even You have been a slave to this, true Spirit, on that wild night, delirious, piercing the meat of life. And since? Scandal to our atoms when flesh, merging with flesh, happens on You in single, paradoxical bliss. Perhaps all earth shall plunge toward sun, savage with desire to be One.
Love, lust, forgiveness, remorse, tolerance, sin, violence and death—these are just some of the themes engaged in The ,Ballad of Jack and Rose. It’s the third feature film by writer-director Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity, Angela), a former painter and actress who is the daughter of the late playwright Arthur Miller.
Those days, I sat on our front porch holding my daughter, my arms and chest vibrating with joy like a tuning fork. Atoms of our happiness fell in on one another like gears turning at the heart of the universe. When stars came out at noon, the meadow of my hollow hand was filled up with strange light. How can it be now that we are two separate islands in an ocean of blue water? I think of my own mother long ago, sitting on her porch with me. That distant island. When my daughter sits on her porch this summer, holding her own child I will watch her from my island. I will call to her over the blue water.
At year’s end, when all is sad and done in, we gasp as clouds of smoke appear. But it’s only the yews spewing pollen, outdoing chimneys as if it were spring. That and speech about Mideast peace as juncos reseed themselves, the Christmas rose flops open to cold, and Barney the cat perfects his new trick—he unbars our door.
He stares. (He prefers indoors.) But right there’s the morning star, just like the chorale’s. And up close, trouble— a pup hunting kibble and warmth. And there’s more. Mt. Rainier shows up in pink and blue bunting. So clear. Such fresh-powder glory. The sleepy volcano seems suddenly haloed, huge, and near. So much for our little stable.
Amazon says that the most highlighted Bible passage on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is Philippians 4:6–7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Atlantic, November 2).