The Tibetan eyes are crying without crying. His mother looks beyond us with a kind of disinterest, never locking my gaze. A world is in the space between us.

~~~

I hoped the plateau would go on forever, but the road turns down and snakes away into a roiling mist. Soon everything is going down: cars, trucks, the cold air of the plateau, the mist riding its back, the sun. Everything descends except the great, fat lowland clouds. Fleeing the wet heat of the jungles far below, they numbly seek an escape from their valley confines. Watching the last sliver of blue sky, I see the oblivious clouds creep coyly up to the edge of Heaven where they are summarily shattered by the Tibetan winds.

In the last town in China, the crackle of neon is washed out by the falling mist. The street is a diffuse glow, the pavement wet and glossy. The whole town teeters on the edge of the cliff, itself threatening to slide away.

~~~

The altitude, the roads, the alcohol, the heights: each a kind of exposure, each of the variety that empties hearts. I’ve already forgotten more than I remember. What came before is a blur, a wandering narrative that barely makes sense. I try to replay the emotions, but cannot. I feel nothing but drunk on oxygen. I am someone else in these moments, and I know it as if it’s the only thing that ever existed.

~~~

The young woman has not yet lost the weight of a recent pregnancy. Her face is doe-like, mouth a slight smile. A newborn suckles her naked breast, its face finding the same cavernous expression as its mother’s, one that seems to anticipate a rapture or an oblivion in every beat of its tiny heart. The mother pours tea and the great vacuum emanating from them – the radiating peace of her womanhood, the spiraling torment of their earthly bonds – gives way to the cacophony of the nearby street. I look toward the door: people on the tops of buses, a wandering Brahman bull. The hot, wet air hangs heavy with the smell of masala, incense, and excrement. In the distance, I feel India again.

~~~

~~~

Gyalzen’s body is thin and bent. He is not aged, but his form is tired and weak. The light in his eyes wavers as he speaks, his face sometimes tending toward a subliminal expression of great distance, distance of the kind that we see in only in the mask of death. He is warm when he is able, feet shuffling lightly as he prepares tea.

~~~

The great canyon runs into the distance, hiding behind nearby peaks. Each peak is a new beginning, a vantage on a valley-world whose mysteries are yet unobserved. The people are awake, carrying baskets, breaking rocks, preparing food. The crow’s deep, guttural caw is both comical and menacing. I am alone – the aloneness of all infinities – but I do not know it, and I cannot say why.

The sun is quiet at this great distance, though the sun is also sleepless. In it’s shadow, my dreams are muddled. I think I’m at home but in a place I’ve never known. A cold breeze scratches at my cheek. My eyes roll open from that strange dream-home onto the wavering grass. Its blades are speckled with tiny globes of dew, the pre-dawn glow casting a delicate light on their otherworldly interiors. My eyes close again, dreaming mind waiting for the first rays. A woman sings in an unfamiliar language.

~br

Advertisements