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The Loon

I woke up Friday morning at about 2:30 AM and could not get back to sleep. Finally, I turned the light on and read from a book by Jacques Derrida. It was not as exotic as hearing a loon out on the lake Mary Oliver writes about, but I found refuge reading about the Derridean concept différance.

The word is a deliberate misspelling of the word difference in French and the verb differer which means both to defer and differ. It is the space and time we defer to what and who is different as we encounter it and them. A person would not hear the difference (différance) in speech, but would see it in print. Still, if I did not know the word, I could easily not see the difference in writing.

Needless to say, I found my way back to sleep in the magical reading I found in the hour or so that lapsed. Today, I recalled the times camping, hiking, fishing, etc. where the loon called and I stopped wondering whether it spoke to me or someone else in that moment? Was it deferring to some difference I could not sense and imagine.

Not quite four a.m., when the rapture of being alive
strikes me from sleep, and I rise
from the comfortable bed and go
to another room, where my books are lined up
in their neat and colorful rows. How

magical they are! I choose one
and open it. Soon
I have wandered in over the waves of the words
to the temple of thought.

And then I hear
outside, over the actual waves, the small,
perfect voice of the loon. He is also awake,
and with his heavy head uplifted he calls out
to the fading moon, to the pink flush
swelling in the east that, soon,
will become the long, reasonable day.

Inside the house
it is still dark, except for the pool of lamplight
in which I am sitting.

I do not close the book.

Neither, for a long while, do I read on.

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

12 responses »

  1. I miss the loons. My husband just returned from our land in Maine, where our Hawaiian helper was, for the first time, able to see and hear them. It was an experience that marked him forever, I think – between loons, eagles, porcupines and fireflies! Nice to revisit those memories through the eyes of another.

    Reply
  2. I think it’s the beautiful imagery of nature and all natural, that best brings our mind at peace.

    Reply
  3. This is a beautiful introduction to nature and values throughout the world. Very impressive and detailed!

    Reply
  4. Your words are always most visual! I have done the same, and the sounds I hear are the haunting calls of the coyotes. Dream on!

    Reply
  5. Your words are beautiful and they transported me to the scene of some movie long ago in which I was able not only to hear but see. That recollection has stayed with me. Thanks for bringing it back for me.

    Reply
  6. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    That’s unusual…. différance. I love the images you convey through your words and thoughts.

    Reply
    • It took reading to notice the difference. As a French-speaker, the word sounds the same regardless of spelling. Only in seeing it, do we notice the difference. It is unusual, but common how we privilege some things i.e. oral vs. written. It is a left over from Plato.

      Reply

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