Here we look out at the persimmon tree every morning. We're curious, the squirrels anxious.
We hiked about the Himalayas a couple of summers ago now. Our driver was a tall, stoic man, attuned it seemed to concerns about which we ought not inquire. On the walk back from a hilltop dzhong in a remote valley, he spotted a few rice seeds among a field of stalks and exclaimed. I know I cannot live that moment, the austere vigil for the pleasure of a season, come and gone in a footstep, but sometimes I think I want to.
Over this weekend, your letter sat behind the mountains where my aunt and uncle live, behind their two dogs, a week or two of some trudging maintenance and a whirling calendar of future events, all in pencil. On Saturday morning I read "Howl" in the quiet house. And, before the shock set in, "A Supermarket in California" and short bits of "Sunflower Sutra" and "America." And I looked away. I do not know how a person just keeps looking, but sometimes I think I want that too.
Part of that maintenance has been walking up the hillside steps near my house after seeing the kids off on the bus. I think of it like another invitation, in its way, to receive the word. The messages I have to divine from, so far, include a half-eaten pear left in the middle of the path, and more-than-occasional poops. Some neighbors are discourteous. There are fence-minding dogs along the way, too, but mollified for days at a time once given their due.
So my mind drifts into a child's game, somewhere in the fog. The one hiding her eyes counts, "One revolution, two revolutions, three revolutions..." Her older brother declares "It's not revolution, it's revelation. And it's not revelations, there's only ever just one." A third player wants to know why they don't just use "Mississippi" and the brother just shrugs: "That's somewhere else." I don't know if it comes from rotting pears or dog shit but the idea of it won't go away.
Another morning, a group of insurgent militants intercepted me along the climb from India to Bhutan. I wanted to reason with them; they had their guns and their doubts, but told me tigers would eat me, in any event. I said tigers have to eat but men elect to kill. In any event I had barely enough food for myself, let alone a tiger. I didn't know where to take this encounter next, so I recalled the lap I was on and set about finishing it.
I liked seeing your eyes again. The last time I truly remember seeing them they were quite red. In the hallway on the second floor, wringing out a terminal goodbye...I don't know, a dry-swallowing moment to see.
I'll be in Delaware in a couple of weeks, and happy for some measure of work that doesn't take place in this chair. For reasons I can't explain yet, even to myself, I was in Chicago for three days, not too long ago, and didn't say a word to anyone that wasn't required.