My dad, the physicist, had a phrase when I was growing up: this is a high entropy day, kids. Generally, this involved car repairs, a busted hot water heater which happened surprisingly frequently in my childhood home, cracked roof valleys, or any other number of household calamities.

Entropy is an apt word for my existence these days, as – in addition to my broken washing machine – I’m breaking apart a business I spent the bulk of my adult life building, sending physical pieces to this nice couple, that retired gentleman, and so on. Here, again, is that theme of creation and destruction braiding together: any gardener knows growth and decay are not opposites but different bends of the same process, always coming and going, ceaselessly.

And so, in my pre-dawn reading these days of Chinese poetry, I’m evolving to know on a deeper and more biting level that literature is as real as the mound of scrap metal my daughters and I moved today: that poetry is essential precisely because it reflects that universal experience of dissolution and rebirth, the immutability and inevitably of change. More than anything else, I’m reading this poetry because it pulses with the same pounding heartbeat of ceaseless desire that – in varying tones and intensity – links us all.

Vast and deep, everything and everywhere: existence is alive somehow  – magically, mysteriously, inexplicably alive. Nothing holds still…. nowhere does it appear so directly or dramatically as in the twisting and tumbling form of dragon. Fear and revered as the awesome force of change, of life itself, dragon is China’s mythological embodiment of the ten thousand things tumbling through their traceless transformations. Small as a silkworm and vast as all heaven and earth, dragon descends into deep waters in autumn, where it hibernates until spring, when its reawakening manifests the return of life to earth.

– David Hinton, Existence: A Story

Hardwick, Vermont


By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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