Aug 172011
 

I’ve been here a long time already, asking what it means and not knowing. My friends turn up their faces in friendly expectation when I turn toward them, a bubble at my lips, words about to float off from their silent home in my belly, where I keep a small coal guarded that only one wizened Tibetan knows about. Only a mountain wind can flare the small coal alive, the whip end of a lank donkey-tail. I put my hand into the bowl of spicy peanuts instead of speaking, swallowing the bubble, its spices breaking on my tongue.

Michele is introducing me to her Sacramento cohort, fine folks with a range of faces. Stories get told, introductions and fabled embarrassments. Stories whose intricate inner emotional edge little Michele could recall in almost infinite detail, her hands sailing the topography of the conversational arena like Einstein mapping out the first square of timespace in his mind. Everyone is politely greedy to know how Michele and I first met, what windswept moor or blurred stage-set of the past first let us see friendship as our kismet. “At a bookstore where we both worked.” “He had a rock and roll poetry vibe.” “She was so shy, I just had to know her.” “The way her hands leapt and almost clapped when she said ‘poetry.'”

How does a crow grow a nest for its dark life? Day after day over the empty fields, here a glitter, there a glint of something draws the wings to its sides to plunge earthward. The black head cocks to one side, and a bit of foil shimmies into its beak. Somewhere in the crow an egg is waiting, to be laid, to be hatched. But day after day there are the empty fields, flying alone, resting on other people’s fences, as here and there in a hedge a stick cries out “pick me up.” And we have a life we do not understand but that is our own life, a speckled egg glowing down among the sticks our beaks have gripped.

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