Pantry Prose: Postscript by AE Reiff

The Voyage

What’s there to transmit? I was dropped off by ship by St Branden exploring islands in the sea of fire. His  curragh was smoking. The leather boat hides stretched over the  frame of the boat smoked in the heat. The monk dips his blade in the sea. What does he say? “I am pleased with the smooth gentle motion of my curragh over the waves.”

Another image of the man alone, eternal before creation, made to feel the motion of the curragh. He floats before earth is made, in companies, ranks of fifty, the way the Lord sat them down on the hill to feed the loaves and fishes. Christopher Smart says, “the Lord Jesus made him a nosegay and blessed it and he blessed the inhabitants of flowers.” He called them herbs. As an herb on the hill the eternal waits birth, distilling with sun, blind for the Sun, rest surveying space, time and none, until he hears his name. So down into flesh.

You cannot prepare ahead for life. With no memory he goes in faith past the deities and sinks to a womb to enter the world where surfaces rule with no certainty what you are guessing. Everybody knows the nature of this voyage. To read about it you are on it. Not to tell, the thing is forgetfulness, waking up, falling asleep, thin on the ground. Just thinking about the sea causes air to disappear. The monk thinks that thinking about the flesh inundates spirit.

The Hat

Wind, water. So in transmission there is nothing at all. You’re here, then you’re gone. You might be remembered great or small. The people I speak of are small. Peasants, still talking. A mashed potato baby, burlesque of the eternal. That’s the danger of the voyage, the details are everything. The red wheelbarrow in the rain. Do your word. When the eternal subsumes in the working and immolates pleasure for the satisfaction of creation, the details are everything. The eternal is a hat in a closet. We think of it when the plane takes off, but it is in the closet.

Some feel they have lost the hat. Where did it go? Who took it? The youngest says he can argue either way that the man who fell relived his life in the moments of descent or at the exact moment of impact. But put the hat on before the event. Be there before arrival, greet the eternal again. With that same blindness return as when you came. Know nothing at all. Knowing is equivocation here. Faith is the only knowledge. Sense details mean nothing before and after earth. What matters is what you do with the spirit. It is no gnostic trip. No matter what Branden finds on the isles. It fills the time. You have your cake and eat it too. You can go to earth and remember the hat but not see it till after.

The Lady

So who do I write for but my subject to celebrate, pure and simple. It’s about the memory of innocence. I remember being innocent. I say, I remember. I do not remember being eternal. Memory and faith must have relation. Philosophy in her blue night dress, her fragrance, her touch, her bed, I remember feeling it compounded over years, but always I start with that first moment of peace or love. It’s better than that. It doesn’t stop. So it is like the hat. I carry that hat made of a thousand touches, more. I talk of eternal, but you are bored, to quote again my youngest in the car: “Carry your sorrow, bear your grief to one pierced breast of love, the Lord’s, and there we lie.” So I guess in addition to writing this for her I write it for him. That’s a good audience. He reads everything! What more can you ask? I want to make him smile. Whether this submission… no, he’s not an editor, nor a librarian, but a grandfather. Whatever I sent to my father during his life he kept. He didn’t always get it but he kept it. I think he was mostly amazed. The Lord I praise is smarter. Can you imagine actually being understood! Unalloyed tongue. Impossible. So I write to praise God.

The World

What do we see of the spiritual world? The foreordained! Moments of predestination. Not to speak it, but you can’t avoid it. That’s the way it seems later. Before, we knew nothing. Just like the voyage out and back. Afterward, compare notes. Before?  Forgetfulness. What voyage? Moments of ordination are like this. They present choice. Choice conditioned with grace. Good thing the mind prepared unknowing. Does the field know it will bear wheat? The mind prepared, the body is along for the ride. So float emotion out of stone. Sparks shower no matter what we do, but when remembered, fireworks begin. Creating heaven with a touch, his fingers, the moment is ordained. The hearts of the sons turn to the fathers. The sparks don’t stop.

I don’t know where that leaves those odd moments of Google search. Irrelevancies are possible. Snippets get picked up. Somebody’s search excerpted the St. Branden website for sure. What about the nieces and nephews? Before light dawned and I realized it went to all the world, inflicting one copy each would be enough to hide in the closet near the hat, in case somebody got bored. JAS III wanted it online. Aey will look someday at 40 and say…. I only care in the doing. A month, a year, a decade. It relives if someone discovers Homer again or meditates the past. For a guy on shore the moment lasts, then is gone. He puts out to sea. There are more isles.

The improbability of an unwritten ten generations capable of surviving, that someone could find evidence of with all that suggests of serendipity, we have to accept. We don’t ask why, only what. What is the case.? I set it out here, but not transmit. I set it out because it’s a puzzle unearthed driving blindly. Unearthed is a good word. It is a miracle not to understand the earth, incarnation, expression, image and all details. I consume with lightning and the sunlight falling, mystified with earth. That’s why we have wives, right?

Getting to ground, the endless conversations of my aunts and grandmother, remembered. Lib says I would come into the kitchen and say, “let’s talk.” The child is good, but the man is real. After I found all that out they told me, “oh, I knew that.” They knew but didn’t say. That resistance was a motivation to find out, just because it seemed, as coming in a Journey, all fresh. It is ineffable to me that all those linens exist after hearing all my life nobody knew anything of their maker because she and her sister were orphan girls. Little ones lost have been found ere this, now again. All the while the deeds, the artifacts, the linens were in that trunk.

I like to sail these seas but arrival is everything.


I arrived that day after Christmas with Aey at 6 AM to snow covered streets and cold, went to the diner and had oatmeal before going to pack the remains of two hundred years. The greatest treasures were in the meanest places, signed German books in a case against the eaves of one window. I might have left them, but Aey insisted they go. Later I find all those signatures! Unbelievable. Talk about hiding the past, still feel like much was missed, but don’t know what. Sure the watercolour of Jesse was snatched and lost.

The day before we left I contracted a serious cold, the airport there was said to be closed. Temptation was great not to go. Overcoming by a hair we went. Entropies were strong, determination strengthened by knowing what happens to estates after decease, what happened to my grandfather’s  furniture made with his hand, copper kettles, carvings, hand forged fireplace tools. That auction was held over that Christmas before in his house on a rainy night. Few came. What a steal. I was poor then, no transport, no storage, no nothing would be reserved. You can try to save the body. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. If the body is rejected, what of the manuscript? After every proper noun and name is searched strangers will come in the night and read, amazing from every country of the world. In the end it is like the beginning, the disposition of events, the purpose that preceded them before. Before life, after life, in between. The doing is in the doing. What is the being? Keep moving. Believe everything and nothing. The bards are going in that direction. 

Attic and Basement

The attic is like the hat, temporal to eternal. What I assume you shall. All visits to that attic are nothing to the time I stayed there as a boy, cot at one end, my brother’s at the other near the books. I was over by the paintings. The impressions layer each other into one large experience to enter whenever I want. The attic has many pretensions, leads onward, oils stacked, surrounded like providence created by the generations before and passed down to inhabit. They were not then revealed. This is not just metaphor. The linens and blankets, the doll clothes and the dresses. I wish I had the dress she put on at moments at the end. It is only a metaphor now.

The body, the body. Things mean the most on earth. I go in and stroke the walnut chest. These many days I take out the pewter coffee pot used on the wood stove in old Philadelphia, turn of the century, brought along in 1944. Some cookware remained, stored in the attic. The stove itself was in the basement, but we have not got there yet. A large pot of boiling water with a swivel top and wood handle, this coffee pot with a mesh insert holds coffee. Its lines get me, the black painted handles. I don’t know what it means, it’s just there as a habitation, the hundred details together mix on top of every surface, pots of the present and past, statues and sculptures, bowls and plates, for all three of my mates are potters, but in the case rests the old pot from early on, too beautiful to behold. So the attic was filled and the boy drank from that well.

Should we have spent more time in the basement, not counting the floors between? I like the basement, but never lived there, thought about saving the old claw foot table, but didn’t. The rush was too great. Really the basement is an exile from the attic. It just works like Jake’s old wood cabinet that he made “just to prove he could,” now on my porch housing pots. Household cleansers were down there, washing machines, prose stuff, except for Marvin’s rocks and jars and fossils. He got nothing into the attic, but of course Aey and Andrew spent their visitations down there with him and the rocks for hours. He had his tools there too, the old wood handled planes and clamps. The basement? I don’t figure to spend much time when all is said and done. There is more dancing to be done. Planets are waiting. Earth reviving. Who shall deliver me? Start looking in worlds without eyes, houses, hills, flame. I build a name out of none of this, but wear it and put it over them, without which I am none. With it, well you see what it brings. It is as said, believe in the name of the son of God and believing have life in his name.

Works Cited

Christopher Smart. Jubilate Agno.

AE Reiff has written The True Light That Lights (Parousia, 2020).  He has a debt to the living, to the dying, and to the dead, all with whom we have to do and which enter this writing, poetry dressed as prose to encourage the living to catch, to lodge, to give a breath, a healing, a peace. So see further, Unconscious Origins and Archives,  The Library of Elisabeth Bechtel 1852-1885, and Images of Paradise.

You can read more of AE’s work here on Ink Pantry.

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