Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Thick black porter, black as pitch; but hold a glass of it up to the sun and you'll see its real color: in its heart it glows -- not black, and not brown, but deep blood red.

Mae lay on the Thai mats, half asleep, a badger-stripe of blond in her dark hair. I didn't put a hand out to stroke her and soothe her. I didn't tell her my opinion of her has steadily risen. She is someone who understands, while still a teenager, that only kindness is real. I didn't say that either.

Later she sat up, and looked at us with no trace of sleepiness in her face, and there was that porter-black, burning in her eyes; eyes not of a teenager at all, but the serious dark eyes of a woman, a woman who has taken losses that will not be made good. She studied us.

George and Andrea had been alternately squabbling and nuzzling, in that odd hurried way they have, as though their relationship had a deadline, and they needed to get through everything before it fell due. We'd been studying cryotherapy, the use of ice and cold towels and so forth. Andrea, who hates ice and cold water, declared that no one was ever going to use it on her, at any rate. Clint informed Andrea that next summer we would all go camping, and that he and George would throw her into the cold water of the lake. He insisted on it, in his slow rural drawl; for once his easy-goingness and good nature seemed to have rubbed thin, and it was easy to see the young Marine he was fifteen years ago, just back from the first Gulf war, full of trouble but looking for more. "You're scaring me," muttered Andrea, finally -- referring not, as I took it, to the threats, but to his insistence -- and he came back to the present and let it drop. His wide blue eyes, framed with black eye-liner, scanned us. I wondered again how he got here from there. And I wondered what made us so watchful a group. Only George and Andrea, absorbed in the egotism of love, were oblivious.

What I have promised, I will perform, says Eddison's Aphrodite. The infinite regress of longing. How many days, cut across the face with the same lash?

We both know, said a friend of mine, that you don't talk about anything important in your blog

Well, that's true too. But of the things that could be unfolded, so many are better left as they are.

Lisa came over to us. "Any questions about anything?" she asked brightly. She had her hair up in almost-pigtails, and was wearing an orange-red Sergeant Pepper tunic, with a high, tight-buttoned collar. The light winked on her slender gold nose ring. She's younger than most of us, maybe Andrea's age, and I wondered if we were an intimidating group to approach. The little knot of us who came from Debbie's class have kept somewhat distinct: we are older (except for Mae), more confident, more skeptical, more enterprising. Much of this class is -- well, not to put too fine a point upon it, bovine. They seem to have wandered in by accident.

"Yes," said Clint, energetically -- startling her, I think. "Are we supposed to know which muscles are synergists and which only assist?" I asked which authority we should follow, in the tests, when our course notes and our book diverged. Andrea had questions about shoulder assessments.

Now Lisa's eyes, they're as brown as honey, clear and uncomplicated. She is quick and responsive, an automatic smiler. She talks her way to answers for each of our questions, and moves on, flashing a brilliant smile. May all beings be without suffering, I find myself murmuring. I seem to worry slightly about everybody, these days.

High green curtains: faded daylight. Shoulders, clavicle, sternum; oiled skin, gentle hands. The end of a winter day.

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