The mountain reaches up grasping clouds. The river no longer runs red down its flanks now traversed by a black ribbon twisting upward. The Hertz rental has a warning taped on the glove box driving above 5,000 feet is prohibited, and at the driver’s risk. The Minolta sits in the trunk as I deny the siren’s call.
FirstAppeared in Raconteur, Issue 3, January 1996.
The morning was indistinguishable from so many others. Lorenz was taking his morning walk around the pond or lake, it was of that intermediate size that could be either or neither, when in a break with his habit, he sat down on one of the four benches, and stared out over the water. He hadn’t seen the usual egrets or herons or ibis, which did strike him as a bit odd since they were as regular in attendance as he was. As he pondered their absence he was startled by what felt like a tickling on his arm. He looked down to find a Painted Lady butterfly perched on his forearm sitting placidly. He stared at what seemed to be the eyes on its wing staring at him. Neither moved, he for fear of dislodging his visitor, the butterfly for its own, undisclosed, unfathomable reasons. This mutual staring continued until time lost its shape, its defintion, and puddled at his feet, no longer mattering at all. But evenutally a breeze came up and it lifted from his arm, flitted about as if in some farewell and was off. He had no idea that moments later the tsunami warning sirens began up and down Fukushima Prefecture in Japan.
In the interstitial moment between birth and death a universe comes into existence, something that never before existed and existed always, new and well-known, unseen and visible for eternity.
Measure it well for it is incapable of measurement, and ends without warning and precisely on schedule. In the momentary breath that marks the transit, we proceed nowhere and cannot return to where we began.
There are those occasional moments of clarity that appear without warning and are, as quickly, gone. We expect them less as we age and they oblige us by staying away. Children assume them, and are rarely surprised, as though they see them coming, need no warning and have no expectation anything will come of them. Expectations grow proportionally with age and patience diminishes apace. The child understands all of this with the same fascination she has for a soap bubble, as she watches each float away on the breeze of time.
They hide in corners, and you think you can see them, but you cannot be certain for they are vague and could be no more than wishes, but belief is sufficient. As you grow older, the number of corners grow and a universe of but eight corners is now itself tucked in a corner of memory. One corner hides the face of the man who adopted me, watched for two years, before departing suddenly, and the only item I have is his diploma rolled up in a tube where my own accomplishments are rolled. In another corner the day I met the man I now call father is so deeply buried only his present, increasingly absent aging face is all I can see. Memories are elusive, appearing and disappearing without warning day by day the oldest evanesce and that corner is filled by another memory grown vague.
He is worried, he says that we will be leaving on a full moon. I remind him that he leaves in two weeks, that this morning’s half-moon will be gone then replaced by its now absent other half. He says it should be full if it’s half now and half a month passes. His statements seem logical enough But the moon and stars have their own logic and don’t care what we think, that’s why I say, Luna never turns her back on us so she’s always half unseen, and she and the stars are willing to remind us they were all gods and goddesses once and could go back to that with very little warning.
There is a heaviness to the sky a weightiness belied by the gray of the clouds, even the departing sun seems to whisper that it will be replaced by rain in short order. You feel the weight bearing down, as the heat of the day dissipates, and although the first drops have not yet fallen, you know that it is best to be within when the rain begins for it will do so without warning and with little care for your presence, for this is how Spring demands your attention.
He is certain that there is that single moment when it will be exactly the right time for it. There must be such a moment, for it will not happen until that instant arrives and he knows it must be arriving soon. He isn’t sure how he will know when the moment arrives, just that it will signal itself, somehow and he will know with enough warning that it will happen on schedule. Until then, he will sit, patiently on the mat, staring at the wall and imagining what samadhi will feel like when it comes.