Salt of the Earth

It’s buried in theAppalachian Mountains,

beats the rhythm of native drums

into rock-and-roll. Its root

pushes through a crack, through soil

on Lolo Peak overlooking Missoula, Montana.

It’s the seed of a supernova, an idea

that knows it’s here, matter spinning,

whirling into itself, feeling its way

past the need for a crucifixion,

past the need to proclaim a big bang.

It’s found

peace in the night janitor’s bare feet

secretly stepping out on the cold

marble floor in the main lobby

of the Newport Hotel. This voodoo

child, spray bottle of ammonia in one hand

and quart jug of bleach in the other,

punches the play button on his portable

cassette/radio, begins spinning

into Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.

Arms extended, the centrifugal force

of spray bottle and jug, a dynamic counter

balance that urges him on and on

in an effortless dance of inertia-like

perpetual motion, this broom jockey spins

himself into his own swirling Sufi trance,

a dance beyond the marble columns

and leather chairs, beyond the time clock

or the graveyard shift, even beyond his blurring

dervish spiral—beyond intention.

There is something,

a joy through our feet pattering the Earth,

something that exists at the core of all things

and particularly in the heart

of a hippie custodian probably high

on more than momentum and peace.

It is in the music and the marble

and the motion. It is in the quantum

experience of mind. And he spins

for more than five minutes. He spins for

way more than ten or fifteen.

He spins himself out of and back into

the world where he spins for the cops and firemen

staring at him through the lobby window,

an off-duty impromptu sidewalk-audience

watching this goofy Windex ballet.

He spins for Little John, the security guard

grinning in the shadows. He spins for

his wife pregnant with their first. He spins

like a ten year old kid on the back yard grass

trying to spin into a giggling fall

just to watch the dizzy world keep on spinning.

He spins

beyond himself into a clarity of flow,

and as his feet begin to slow

he notices the song tempo starting

its close. The electro-gyro-man

Ladyland solo winds down in slow-mo

to the last guitar note . . . his arms dropping

at his sides, head bowed—the janitor’s

feet are hot stones, his head—a cloud. He notices

the crowd outside: smiling faces, flapping arms,

laughter and applause. Little John claps

behind him, wants to see it again

spun to Purple Haze.

The janitor was born in

the Appalachian Mountains. He knows

if he can stop the world and start it

spinning again, get everybody spinning

at once, that something big could happen,

something really big, maybe universal peace.

One time he stared at the sun for fourteen hours,

and several times he’s witnessed fireballs in the sky.

He knows he’s crazy, but he’s not

dangerous—some scholars claim the greatest minds

(often drunks) are insane.

This hippie hillbilly custodian quit drinking

years ago, quit churches, too.

Now he spins. He spins for us all.

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One Response to Salt of the Earth

  1. donnajloehr says:

    Thanks ! Supper Post !!

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