Sunday, May 18, 2008


A yearning to bring it down to a few simple things: to stone, water, and light; to eggs and a slice of melon; to the fog snagged in the douglas fir boughs.

The cat trots eagerly into the room, every hunting sense wide open, her eyes green as new grass. We try to keep her inside in the morning, when the young birds seem most foolhardy, but it's like trying to stem the tide. Yesterday she startled us by dropping down onto the bed from the second-floor skylight: she had figured out a way onto the roof and had been chasing the squirrels up there.

The first really hot days of the year. I found myself singing "Paint it Black" under my breath, yesterday.

I see the girls go by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

And I was amused, then, to see May linking to the same song. Spring has come to Italy too.

Fall, on the other hand, has come to the Antipodes. I can never quite wrap my mind around that. As you wrote this, commented Jarrett, I was walking across Sydney, wrapped in New Zealand merino. I could see him vividly, and feel the cold wind following him down the street.

But that was in a far country

It runs like blood under the skin. (We say "under," but there's not a living cell in the body the blood doesn't reach; it really runs more like water in wet sand than like a river running underground.) Love, or God, or what's-it: sweet and cruel and overpowering.

Never does Buddhism seem more inadequate. Never do the religions of my fathers make more sense, with their jealous violent Gods and wars in Heaven and covenants sealed in the blood of innocents.

But if you wait, if you're still for long enough, the blood, though it doesn't drop, reconfigures spontaneously into a wholly different pattern: the night stars burning brilliantly, white and blue, topaz and crimson, far older than the Sun and its summers and winters; the sweep of the Milky Way. The Buddha no more than the Christ is a tame lion.

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