Taue, “TaWooWeh”, the rice planting, is complete. The water in the paddy fields is clear and footprints, the farmer’s deep impressions, and the wading birds’, can still be made out. Delicate green stalks sprout above the silvery surface, making reflected clouds look whiskery. I hear a rice-planting song being softly sung in my inner ear, effortless invocation, as instinctive as breathing. The drains gurgle, a living frame around each neatly laid out field. The open lock nearby thunders white, roaring of recent rains and swollen hillside streams.
Patrolling the rippling mirrors of the paddy fields there are dragonflies and swallows by day, and bats by night, darting with magnificent vigor, night and day, hither and yon. These are the fields at play. The fields at rest seem to be hanging with a different crowd. In the distance I see them giggling in their raggedy state, tickled by small flocks of tumbling sparrows, that fall and rise in concert, and the slow flickering of butterflies.
A giant dragonfly momentarily alights beside me on a fence post but we simultaneously and quite suddenly draw back from this mutual inspection. Had I just come into focus? ‘You’re soooo big,’ I remember thinking, ‘I’ve never seen anything like you before!’ The creature, might well have uttered a choice Kurtzian phrase*, but likely as not, was not quite as surprised by me.
I remember the wonder of learning that dragonflies’ vision is 3 to 10 times more powerful than mine. Not only can a dragonfly see in all directions at once but it has 30 000 individual facets which create an image, and 8 pairs of visual neurons which compile those thousands of images into one picture. They see things on the light spectrum that I can only dream of.
Quite right you were, too, Dragonfly, flying away. It is your nature. And, as you flit away on those extraordinarily intricately woven wings, you and your honeycomb peepers, I’m thinking of human nature, of the soul magnifying God, and I’m thinking of those lines in Rilke’s poem:
“Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions . . . For the god
wants to know himself in you.”
*From Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness: ‘The horror, the horror.’ 😆