I'm in my room now, on the celestial prayer rug facing northwest, towards Ohio. I have a stick of cypress incense burning from the bald head of the happy balsam Buddha statue I bought at that little roadside zendo in Waukegan. The lights are off except the black light glow of the burning-eyed tiger on the wall and the three candles representing the holy castes of puppeteer Bhat, the snake charmer Sapera, and the juggler Kamad. I am playing Turkish folk music softly on the stereo, as if the strum of the bouzouki will somehow bring you to me and lighten this horrible burden.
Abby Walton, I want to make you smile.
The other day, I sat on a concrete stoop by the train tracks just outside of Richmond. I made up one of my songs and sang it to the cold and the rain. I was playing with an old railroad spike and there was rust on my hand. I wrote a haiku in mud beneath the gravel with a stick:
Looking for quiet: Sit on a rock in a stream Surrounded by noise.
A pretty grey bird flitted by in the wind and shook the water off its wings. It gave me the wise, tiny, bird-eye and spoke in human voice. It said:
"Make Abby Walton smile."
A pretty grey cloud moved aside and light burst through the holes in the air. The gravel railbed sparkled with a diamond mystery. The eastbound Norfolk Southern flew by on its way from Memphis to Newport News, sloughing the thin sheen of iron rainwater before it in a brilliant cascade. It would be home by dinnertime.
Sometimes I think about the Himalayan snow leopards hiding away their lives in the world's poor places and it makes me too happy to die. Sometimes I think of the hummingbirds' secret home in the hemlock and it's all too much to die. Other times, though, I think of your perpetual straight-forward face and it just buries me alive.