the moon at santa monica beach cuts like a silver shimmering knife across the black water.
* * * *
i was alone outside my tent at Semliki preserve watching the night sky fade. it was the deepest ocean, inverted, limitless. a blue spreading to a deeper and deeper blue still. until the black-silhouetted landscape and sky became one, and i could no longer see myself. occasionally, game lodge workers would walk by on the dirt path to the main house, their faces lit up by the light of swinging oil lamps. i watched a few float by in the distance, listening for the brush-step of lions. the sky was phosphorescent with stars.
i have never been so physically vulnerable in complete darkness as then, in the midnight of western uganda. sitting bait in utter blackness with my tent stubbornly zipped behind me. surrounded by a sparkling and twinkling black and diamond ocean. listening to the sounds of wildlife in the distance against the drumbeat of my adrenaline-thumping heart.
* * * *
up the hill from the house, a yard like any other, but it was where I went to sit. i was young, 10 or so, but it was my retreat. i felt disconnected, preferential. purposefully different because it was my doing that got me there. i didn't think about roller skating or boys or my math homework, i thought about nothing, again on purpose. my point, to just watch the sky and clouds and treetops and breathe in the moment and think on nothing but marking the passing of time with the clouds moving across the sky. that sky was my solace, and i can see it now and every day as if it were then. when i look past you, that's what i see. if I'm ever abducted by the taliban, i know i will have a lot of competing thoughts and images swirling around, but I hope that is the last one in my head before I die.
* * * *
you called for a retreat from the daily war-campaign we wage, and so we packed up and headed west. we had no idea where we were going and neither one of us cared. the point was just to make it somewhere before sundown. on the outskirts of this tiny village, a real one horse town, we saw it: a soft, rolling prairie ridged by old oak trees with just enough wildflowers to give an impression of neglect. no one would find us here. for four days we talked: you about your life and dreams and me about mine. and the sky? it was everything you would imagine out there: grand and sunflower kissed. a piercing blue fading into a release of purple and gray, fading to night, like crushed velvet. the hush of a yellow dawn.