I’ve been asked hundreds of times to sign personal copies of Come of Age, and I’m glad to do it. More than glad. I see to it that each inscription is very close to prayer, outright. Not always a prayer for something, mind you. Rarely that. Just as often it is a prayer to Something, on account of Something, for the sake of Something, because of Something. This is the affliction and the habituation of an animist: it’s always Something. Always. I’m trying to make the prayer be proof of Something, proof to Something, proof that not everyone in a troubled time went nuts, went underground, went over the edge.

And I find myself thinking about dust when I think about age. I often wrote in these prayerful inscriptions of the dust of the old road, rising. Dust, the most apt, the most able, the most faithful rendering of what the passing of time renders. Dust: not the evocation of futility, but the cradle and grave of all meaning, all purpose, all intent. Dust: the sign that everything that’s been is, winnowed and rendered, still here, the ground of now.

I initially intended to begin this note by observing that the dust has just begun to settle on the empty luggage in the hall, the not-yet-sorted road clothes in the corner of the room, the guitar case leaning against the wall, the clutch of receipts and invoices I faithfully collected on the tour and did not collate, yet to be readied for the tax man … and me. The dust has begun to settle on me, too. It’s a sign that I’ve been somewhere – many somewheres – and that I’ve gathered news and allegations and signs as I’ve made my way across the continent this fall.

This time out I’ve been entrusted with proof. I’ve proof now that many are roused by the prospect of Mystery unencumbered by clumsy explanation. I’ve proof that many are unwilling to submit themselves any longer to the habits of cynicism, misanthropy, ennui. I’ve proof that a cabal of poet musician pirates will lay aside the ties of home and bills and old promises of ‘I’ll-be-there-come what may’ and take up the summons to appear out on the Dark Road for the sake of wrestling monsters, for the sake of a better day for those not yet among us. They even took up the discipline and the discredited dignity of self adornment, at considerable personal expense in currency of a foreign realm, for the sake of the Nights, and the Grief, and the Mystery, and looking ever so good.

Well, they say that the gathering of dust is the sign of settling. But we here in the Orphan Wisdom corner of the world did not receive that memo, that style directive. So our dust is the sign of us gathering our wits about us, learning what’s there to learn from the last tour or two, taking the temper of the road, giving the band much-needed r/r. The brain trust here is in heavy cogitation. I’m tired, but I’m not tired enough. We are rolling the knuckle bones of our fate, probably better known to you as doing due diligence on the likelihood of touring our asses off in 2020, in differing permutations of the Band. We recorded some of the live shows from this fall, and we’re listening close for signs of another life. There are rumours of a new book. There’s something in the air – dust – about new classes here or there. The Office is firing on all cylinders. Soon enough there’ll be announcements here about our allegations about what is to be in the coming year, if we are spared and have our way.

For now, though, on behalf of the Office and the Band, in the name of the Nights we were granted, for the sake of the sudden camaraderie we were afforded out there on the Lost Nation Road: bundles of gratitude for giving us a chance to live out why we on this end were born and spared through the slings and arrows of childhood and adolescence and early adulthood, when so many were not; grace upon you for summoning your care-worn give-a-shit, and rising. And to those of you not yet met and gathered: we are as stallions and mares, kicking at the stall, looking for loose boards to push through or lumber over, on our way again out of the incandescent habits of the hearth and out onto the Dark Road.

All willing, we’ll see you there soon enough,

Stephen Jenkinson