One Chair, One Table, One Book

27 February 2021

Life at 8,000 feet in a narrow valley is exhilarating. The November sun disappears behind a boulder-strewn cliff around noon. In Spring I thrust my hands into still-frozen earth silently imploring it to wake up–nuzzling it like a baby’s head. I over-water everything with hope and watch as the tiniest green shoots get smothered in mold or eaten by rabbits as big as lambs. Over time, I think less of taming or shaping this sharply vertical rise as I do just gazing at it in wonder, gratitude.

I am constantly made stupid in the mountains.

Standing on glacier smoothed stone with a wide grin and empty head, my lungs absorb all the power of a brain dislodged from its protective shell.

As my little extended family pushes itself into the story of the valley this narrow patch called home pushes back. It wraps its umbilical cord around and around our necks and hearts until the only smells we recognize and the only trees we know become the only ones we ever want to know.

Still, I dream of escape. But not now. Not yet.

Protected by miles of trees and few neighbors, I watched as the world in one year was upended by death. Everything is a luxury.

I took too much for granted standing right next to those who could take nothing for granted.

Metaphors fail me now. I clutch at the void thrumming in my chest and can’t make the noise of dying go away. Nor should I. The earth receives its own again and again in silence. I can only hope that whoever is left standing is made wise and holy again in this valley of shadows.

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