Baxter once said that a man in the woods was about the purest thing there was in the world, and the closest he could come to knowing God. A man can never buy with money this thing that the Lord gave him for free, he said. That sense of awe and respect one derives from the trees and the earth and all things that dwell in between them. He told Jacob that poetry was all around him, in the grass and on the surface of the leaves, and that the Bible was full of good words designed to mimic what could never be written, but could sometimes be heard and always seen—the rising water, the falling rain, the rush of river and wind, the passage of cloud banks and great ruminant herds, buffalo and elk and the trailing packs of carnivores, both man and wild dog, wanderers all, in endless migration to the grasslands that feed them. He told him that magic is neither myth nor mystery but that which cannot be explained or understood—which is how the world was and should always be. There’s magic in a caterpillar, he told him, and in an acorn and behind the stars. His ancestors had understood this. They worshipped the forest as some white men worship God. He had only come to know and love God through time spent in the woods and through his proximity to death, which he gained in the trenches of the first great war.
There above him the heavens turn. Ten thousand particles of spinning light. The cold darkness of space pulling an old, broken house back into its living maw. And what does the starlight tell him that the dream does not? There is no beginning and there is no end, to the dream and that from which the dream has sprung, so that the falling is rising and the descent is a nostalgic review and the old glass woman is but a form of selfish pride who will not abide him any longer. She will cast him down, and the vanity of it all will consume his very flesh. His faith will fail him. His son will capture the light. There will be naught but darkness to receive the deadly thing, and man will be man again, pageless, wordless, and circumscribed by common fate and the weakness of bone and blood
Until Cornelius Loop he's only seen the dead in visions. He's see broken corpses pulled taut by their own weight, or hog-tied, or dismembered, or splayed open with all their shiny magic exposed and ruined. But those were distorted men, transformed into things vaguely human. Far removed and far away, those dark visions, those strangers, would blur and fade like ghosts. In his visions he knew nothing more than what he had seen with his eyes.
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