The Must

As I have commented before, I think wine is the central metaphor that best explains the journey of Life, and the task we are all given.  In that post, I said that a good bottle of wine is the distillation of thousands of relational decisions made well…and that I long to be the distillation of thousands of relational decisions made well.

Harvest is/has happened, and Crush is upon us (oh CRUSH, be upon us always)…during crush there are many tasks that must be carried out, and one is called punch down, or pump over.  This is where the conglomeration of grapes, seeds, stems and other things that may have been able to make it through the sort and into the fermentor are all allowed to sit…this union is called “must”.  The solids soon float to the top and form a cap, and that cap has to be pierced with an implement, and punched back down into the juice so that flavor and color can be extracted.

Some wine makers use a pumping method, where they pump the juice from below over on top of the cap and create a mixing via that method.

Either way, the cap of skins, seeds, stems…the conveyors of what is precious and desired (the juice) has to be pierced, assaulted, and then ultimately removed at the right time to leave just the juice and its extracted color and flavor to ferment, transform and become wine.

I worked Evening Punch Down one year, and I was struck by the highly metaphoric parallel to my life, and the process of sanctification.  I bring my harvest to the King, and He receives it with Joy, good fruit!  And then He puts it through the crusher, and presses out the juice, crushing what I had brought of my best and greatest steps for Him…


But ultimately peace, and with time, a good wine that brings refreshment to others.  As I worked, and thought, the parallels grew stronger and deeper, and so I composed this poem to talk about that whole thing.

You need to read this out loud to yourself, for there is an intentional rhythm to it that emulates the rhythm of the punch as it operates to pierce the cap and mix the must with the juice.  Let your mind wander, to the work of the WineMaker as He punches down your “carnal cap” into the good juice in the Must of your life.

and of course the double entendre of Must is a major clue.

Anyway, without further prevarication, I give you The Must

The Must

In still night the must calls…
pure flute and woodwind spice
scents rising soft, unseen
on bright brass trumpetings
of cunning magic hidden
to work a wonder war
on this old dreary world.
The deep bass heartbeat drums,
comes thrumming thru the must,
and swelling symphony
resurrects rituals
so old, so new, so fresh.
The dewy year looks up
to see the conductor,
and hear and breathe and live…
… in still night the must calls…

We ride steady and tired
from our loving labor
and crusted with our works,
and wondering when we’ll end
tonight and sleep, and when
we’ll rise again, awake
in the new day to work
refreshed, to live again.
The cap is full and thick
and covering liquid fire
that’s running deeply dark,
so purplely rich and red,
the twigs, the stems, the seeds
and skins…the must so red…
beneath the silky skins
so softly rich within.

So we punch down up down
again…and…then again.
Arms push and pull, backs bend,
wide smiles of working joy.
We’re captured in its rhythm,
the rhythm of the punch,
our hearts echo the singing
so red beneath our skins…
How many times, the punch?
How many years have sung?
Is this song That, played over
thru wooly years but changéd
instruments and players…
or do we bathe our spirits
in echoes of the echo
of echoes of The Song?

And still we punch…the air,
still, pregnant with passion,
a blanket full and heavy
with yeasty moist desire.
We plunge in–out–and breathe
in heady air that gooses
our heads giddy with wonder
and with creation’s dancing
and fragrant must desire
(Desire! Oh Desire…).
Sweat beads, drips, white blood running,
and falling into red,
and tumbling terroir breeding
its brick-bronze grape blood brew…
“unless you drink my blood
you have no life in you”…

Then wet washing, flooding,
the ragged rinsing scours
away all evidences
of work, and only wine
is left fermenting…singing
and playing in the darkness
orchestral magic mysteries
and alchemal aromas
(plum leather chewy cherry
bright red chocolately berry
red purple blowzy jory
cigar-box smoky loam).
The lights dim, darkness drawing
the velvet curtain closed
but underneath: the song,
the must, and still the song…

In dark night the Must beats
so stridently inside me,
its pounding rhythms driving,
its needing, capped and covered
by Crush, and skins…and silver,
the silver punch is raising
and down again comes piercing,
and punching, rending roughly
the crusty carnal cap and
then pulling up the Must from
the purplely unknown deep
(deep calls out unto deep). Oh…
It breaks my stubborn body,
and rends my soul in darkness,
still the Must calls from body
to body…in the darkness.

Up and down and up and down
it pulls and thrusts and pushes
the jangly pain and joy…
The pungent Must shall mingle
with living dirt that’s red,
red underneath the skins, and
The Song! The Song… is floating…
It beckons, drives and drags me,
chained captive to the Crush and
the skins, the seeds, the stems and
the Must moves on, and in and
the Must moves thru and sings out…

in the night…

in the night…

in the night…

In still night the Must calls.