Into Other Perfect Worlds
We sat in the kitchen talking about journeys we intended someday to take, when we had more time and money. As we talked and drank tea, the day grew dark. We kept the lights off. The snow kept falling. We could hear voices and music from other parts of the house. We sat in the dark until we felt like photographs that had never been developed, taken to commemorate some barely-recollected occasion.
And once we felt that way, we knew we could finally start speaking beyond words, until everyone else had gone to sleep and our voices no longer made any sound at all.
Dead birds in the pine tree, tangled up in fishing line.
The whole woods draped in plastic spider webs…
In this morning's paper, a story about a scientist who's been able to calculate exactly how many ancestors each of us has had, how many human beings preceded us from the first Homo sapiens in our line. He claims he can go back thousands and even millions of years to the place where each of us starts.
He's able to identify how many lives link up between that time and ours. And us.
Soon, he says, he'll be able to go back even farther, to the near humans and then the non humans, all the way back to the grasses and the winds.
You might as well try to bury your shadow in a stone, someone else says. You might as well spend your life preparing to fly.
Years later, we paddled our kayaks out to the middle of the bay, to a sand bar slung between two small islands, where we could wade and gather shells and watch birds and talk without raising our voices. The water slapped from both directions, sending claps of small waves up.
Plovers flew near, rose up and fell. No luck! No luck! A pelican stabbed at the water.
Then we woke up together in the middle of the night and listened to the graceful wind-gestures move through the trees and ferns outside our open window, and listened to the creatures singing and grunting and making silence there. We hugged each other thankfully and fell back to sleep and then fell even further away. All night while we slept, the fruit in our yard—wild orange and carambola, papaya, avocado and dwarf banana, sapodilla and mango—grew full and ripe. Spiders wove their webs and waited. By that time both of us were dreaming, content for the moment and vividly alive, drifting down the rivers that flow through our bodies for thousands of miles, into other perfect worlds.