Lew Welch


He Begins to Recount His Adventures

         I can't remember seeing it any other way but whole, a big
round rock wheeling about the heavens and comin' on green to
crack sidewalks, gentle and undemanding, as if I saw it first,
approaching it from somewhere else.

         Everything about it always seemed right. The roundness is
right. The way it spins.

         I used to wonder why you couldn't break every speed record
just by going straight up and somehow hang up there awhile,
while the world spun around beneath you.

         Suppose you dug a tunnel all the way to China and then
jumped into the hole. You'd fall down through the center, and
then fall up – almost to the other side. Then you'd fall back
down again, up again, down again, each time losing a little distance,
till finally you'd be hanging there, exactly in the middle – the only
place in the world where every way is up.

         Somebody said it's way too hot in there and nobody could
possibly do it. Others thought I'd shoot out way up over China
and then fall back and miss the hole ('cause the world would
turn a little in the meantime) and just end up killing my damn
fool self.

         But I liked the part at the very end, when you're falling only
50 feet or so, through and back and through again, like a very
slow kind of floating quiver or something.

         You could bounce on it, later, or even walk around on it
(in it, through it). You keep going through it all the time. Like
those dolls with weighted bottoms only you don't ever have a
table top to end up right side up on. A weird bouncy sort of
spin thing you couldn't ever get out of. You could try, but
you'd never make it: 3,959 miles straight up in all directions.

         All the colors are right. We say it's mostly green and blue,
but other animals see it differently than that and when you
get up high enough it all gets black, so maybe it's just our eyes
that make the colors right.

         The balance of land and water is right – a very good thing
in a spinning ball. If too much weight were on one side it'd
shake itself to pieces, or get into some wacky eccentric extra
orbit kind thing – worse and worse till finally it all breaks
loose from the Sun's pull and wings on out into nowhere,
crashing into planets and suns and generally causing all kinds
of unimaginable hassles and disasters.

         Not only is the land and water balanced right, the shapes
are very beautiful. The two big land-shapes are strikingly
similar, for example, and right. They both have narrow places
near the middle – the right place to be narrow.

         Everything is right, clear down to the smallest parts of it.
I know a beach that's made up entirely of little round stones
the size of a pea or smaller. All smooth and round little pieces
of jade, jasper, agate, moonstones, glass from broken bottles,
shells, tiny pieces of wood – and you get so hung up in a few
square yards you just can't stop collecting and hunting and
looking into it and suddenly there's an unbelievably tiny little
pure white claw of a crab and on that is something even smaller,

         Even smaller than that, it's right. You can spend your
whole life looking through microscopes at subworlds living off
further subworlds, just as surely as looking through a telescope
at light years and light years of worlds so far away they aren't
even there anymore – nothing's there except this little blip of
light that finally travelled far enough to hit your human eyeball
and live, thereby. The whole thing finally coming together as
Rexroth said: . . . "like looking at a drop of ink and suddenly
finding you're looking at the Milky Way."

         Or John Muir waking in a Sierra meadow, in spring, and
finding, inches from his waking eye, a wildflower he, and nobody
else, had ever seen. Rising, he found himself in a field of delicate
color so complicated he spent the whole day in only ten square
feet of it, classifying and drawing pictures of hundreds of little
plants for the first time in the world.

         An average of a ton of insects for every acre of a field like
that. Deer-hoof crushing a flower. Rodents at the roots of it.
Birds diving and pecking at it. Big trees crowding it out with
their shade. Mushrooms in the warm fall rains.

         Ridges rising into mountains and air too thin and not much
dirt for it. Shy little Coneys nibbling at tiny moss. Snow and
Glaciers and the peaks at last.

         Eternal snow where no matter how far up it is you can bet
your life some man, sometime, stood, and looked, and wept
again for wonder of this Human eye!