And what if those grasshoppers had been locusts descending, I thought, and what if I stood awake in a swarm? I cannot ask for more than to be so wholly acted upon, flown at, and lighted on in throngs, probed, knocked, even bitten. A little blood from the wrists and throat is the price I would willingly pay for that pressure of clacking weights on my shoulders, for the scent of deserts, groundfire in my ears--for being so in the clustering hick of things, rapt and enwrapped in the rising and falling real world.In the copy I'm reading, my mother has marked exclamation points in the margin of this paragraph, as though the image is entirely alien, or the desire expressed is incomprehensible. But Dillard's words resonate in my ribcage. They curl around my wrists like bracelets: someone else has felt this way! I will gladly pay a penny of pain to participate in the world with my whole being--to know I belong on this planet--to step into the ceremony instead of watching from the pews, even if it means I must be the sacrifice on the altar.
And Dillard has a quote for that, too, at the end of the next chapter, after she has told us about the myriad parasites that are eating the world:
I am a sacrifice bound with cords to the horns of the world's rock altar, waiting for worms. I take a deep breath, I open my eyes. Looking, I see there are worms in the horns of the altar like live maggots in amber, there are shells of worms in the rock and moths flapping at my eyes. A wind from noplace rises. A sense of the real exults me; the cords loose; I walk on my way.The wind is the body of mystery, and its breath is a benediction. I receive it with open hands and closed eyes, and like Dillard, the prophetess, I walk on my way.