>clearing the code


In the automotive repair industry, techs are accustomed to working on cars with check engine lights on. First time my check engine light came on, I suffered a silent panic. Surely the engine was about to blow. At the garage, I admired the tech’s calm sureness. Nothing was really wrong with Derby (aka Jack) afterall. The tech told me all he had to do was clear the code. The error code.
Whatever was wrong is over.
Ever since, I’ve been thinking about applying this to my life and my relationships. I want that sensation of “whatever was wrong is over”. I want to clear the code.
Surely we can each nod our heads and silently recall some issues in our lives where this would apply. I won’t go into detail. Keeping everything in our lives balanced and humming is tricky. Sometimes a person — let’s say that person is me — suffers from pitch drift (and thank you, Mike, for causing this term to come into my life). It’s not easy to get tuned and then maintain that balanced pitch. Life happens. I read, I write, I sleep. I take road trips instead of calling friends. I glance at my life in the sideview mirror and realize my pitch has somehow drifted. 
After a bit, I get back to the business of tuning my strings again (and here, I suggest you consider me as a stringed instrument. Let’s say I am a viola.) Trouble happens when I  get tuned too narrow (and now I thank someone else for pointing out this phrase which I admit to openly lifting.) If I tune too wide, I end up with the messy math in music.
Having the ability to clear the code is my idea of a solution. I didn’t have a photo on my hard drive to use for this post. I was curious about what might happen if I googled for images of “clearing the code”.
What happens inside you when you consider the word clearing? This is what happened to Google. And what follows the etching is a draft of a poem I wrote when someone asked me this same question a few months ago.
There will be a clearing
which you won’t notice first.

Softer and deeper needles cover your trail.
Filtered in contrary light, ferns
in pine shadows grow only on this side
of the divide. Did you know
when you crossed over? Clearings

bespeak of cabins; you walk a wider circle
finding what you hadn’t known
was lost. Later, when you turn to leave
the sounds of your self will stay.
There, in a timber stand, ax in hand
you’ll exhale with each side stroke. Felling.
Fallen. Befellen. Across the way

she comes to you, a jar of cooled tea clinks
when she sets her bucket down.
You let the sun crest and slide, share
the gingered water, drowsing in that summer’s
heat. When you wake the shadows
will have shifted. The ax, the stripped
lodgepoles, sap from a ponderosa,
the bonnet and the ferns. Gone,
but for the feel of sun
having twice touched your skin.


About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

6 responses to “>clearing the code

  1. >I love the poem, and your observations about clearing the "error code." Maybe it is possible to clear the code, and start over. I've never thought of it that way. And, then, there is creating a clearing, a clear space.

  2. >Lovely poem, and lovely thoughts. Love the felling, falling, befallen…part.Reminded me of this one I read at VMI Poetry Symposium…Ax in hand, the state of Poetry 2009Hold the wood steady as the blade swings.Do you accept the blindfoldor keep close watchon the skin of your wrist?Chop–the splinters fly.Gather the kindling.Ask for mercy–or don'tcount your fingersto teach that languagemay as well make a snake sign.

  3. >PS. Been wanting to write a poem called: Ctrl- alt-delete. I think you've inspired me to try it!

  4. >hi annie,i do like the idea of a clearing (space). i have friendships that are strong because we both employ the clearing of the error code now and then. it's great to hear you liked the poem as well. it's been on the back burner, waiting for revisions, but when i came across this etching i was surprised by how closely it matched the poem i had written a few months earlier!hi mel,what a great line "do you accept the blindfold". wow, that gives me good chills. you always have something to share. and yeah! write that poem and let me know when and where i can read it. very cool.

  5. >This poem is a clear reflection of 'clearing'. Thanks for your insights into something which sounds simple but rarely turns out that way…except in the case of your car of course!

  6. >hi kerry,yes- rarely turns out that way. it seems that everything is a domino- one thing effects the next, which touches the next. finding that clearing now and then is wonderful, which by the way often shows up in your photos in your blog.

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