This morning in being still
For maybe a moment or two
Everything was achieved

All that wanting
All that noise
Bothering my body
Constantly crowding this mind
all day long
and maybe
Into the night
And in the silence
I accomplished
the whole of my life’s work.

When my mother was settling down
Into her last sleep
She murmured,
“I have accomplished”
And in floating away on the tide
Into the vast ocean of stillness
She found that that was that
And smiled.

What I find in the silence
Is that all this activity
All these mistakes
All this awkwardness and floundering
Is magnificent.

I swim in it.
I give way to what I am and
what is becoming of all that
in this moment
As in the waters of hot sulfurous springs
we find again the flowing emptiness,
the joy of finding we are nothing
All the noise we have drawn in
to make our way
wherever we have come to
is gone.

As when, in those days
and days without endings
between the worlds,
we floated in stillness
Beginning only now and then
To sense somehow
through the beating rhythm
Of everything we knew
to feel the vibrations
that would eventually
capture our soul.

I Sleep for You

I sleep for you, my beloved,
My darling one,
I sleep for you when you do not sleep
When your love for another keeps you awake
Hanging on the sound of her breath.

I take a remedy for the pain in my head
That took up residence
During a night of sobbing
For your pain.
It penetrates the membranes of separation
To ease the searing in your head
You have no choice but to endure.

I sing to you the songs I sang
When you dozed in the crook of my arm.
The Broadway tunes,
The song about a blackbird singing in the night
Knowing it will ease the flow
From day to dark.

I breathe in light and breathe out strength
Straight Into your lungs, into that body you drag
From one act of love to another
All day long, one day after another
With no rest.
I breathe for you.
Long, greedy breaths
Filled with life.

I walk through the forest,
Seeking beauty for you
Filling your nose with drafts of moist earth,
Filling your aching spaces
With he music of the pure blue sky
The vibrating gold of an autumn leaf
As it flutters down.
I drawn it in, deep, so deep,
and fill you with it all.

It is you who are seeing it, you who are smelling it
You who hear the slight call of a bird
Fluttering into winter
As the wind moves all the leaves
Of burnished umber
In a dance that enchants your every fiber.

It is you, my beloved, whose cells multiplied
Here inside this body.
Now as then, I breathe for you,
I cover your feet in the middle of the night
Without thought
When I am cold
As my mother did for me
As you do for the bodies that emerged
From the chemistry of cells
Deep within the earth of you.

My blood nourishes you
As the sunlight coming through my window
Here in another faroff land
Penetrates our eyes.
Laughing, breathless with joy
I hear my heart crack
And break from all moorings
As when a rock cliff splits
WIth the unending force
of wind and water.

And again I break away
From all I know of me
Flooded with these hot tears
Of molten love.


My Summer Vacation


This is the summer I learned how to breathe.  No, it’s the summer I learned to be breathed.  Well, actually it’s the summer I discovered I AM breath.

I think that’s it.

It’s been a summer when the universe itself was breathing so deeply and so slowly that breath seemed suspended for longer and longer moments. The fire of breath spread and wafted here and there. Water went deeper and deeper into the essence of the breath until, dispersed so finely into the hidden molecules of breathing, there was no longer enough moisture for even mosquitoes to reproduce and thrive, despite the heat they love.

I chose a pretty challenging summer expedition even though it involved no planning, no added expense.  I had only to remain at home and bear the heat. The trails were too hot and too filled with biting flies to go on pilgrimage through the woods and over the mountains.  I worked from time to time in the garden in the cooler air of morning.  There, my thoughts broke free and brought me news of all that our species is facing: the droughts, the floods, the hunger, the sorrow, the dying the strain.  I pulled the weeds and picked the beans to give us food.  To feed our friends.

But my travels took me far into all that space that’s contained inside.  I needed no ticket, paid for no accommodation.  The fuel for the journey was the fuel of emotion, burning more purely than when I was young.  It was often a hard road but the view was worth every bit of dust and bump and discomfort.

Towards the end of summer, having seen all that, I got into my old car and drove through the gorges and countryside, past Cathare castles and spreading vineyards to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.  There I joined my daughter, my granddaughters and my son-in-law who had , together, made a truly grueling journey of thousands of miles of flights, and lines and taxis and hotels. Like a miracle, we were there together, in each other’s physical presence, there where the watery breath of the planet washes back and forth , touching the body of the land, transforming it with each coming in and going out.

There, by the incredible blue of the sea, I watched the emotions my life has engendered.  I saw them plainly, heard them, smelled them, tasted them so poignantly in the way one’s experience of everything shifts when one travels. We bathed for hours in the glorious healing, huge water, riding the gentle waves.  In those moments in an unfamiliar place, the beauties shine like gems, the lens of the soul breaks free and both the wide scope and the fine detail are somehow simultaneously in focus. Then later, I hugged my family goodbye in the sweaty marble streets of Montpellier, my breath breathing the enormous ache.

Now the season is changing.  The heat has dried the leaves on the trees. There’s more zucchini to make into fritters or chutney or bread. There are apples in a box in the basement. The winter squash is coming on. A bit of rain here and there has given the grass a bit more green and will bring out the Cepes in the forrest.The last flowers of summer are fading, their stems beginning to brown, their green blood slowly withdrawing, back into the breath of the earth.

My body seems to barely exist. I think it was finally washed away by the pure, clear, warm salty waters of the sea, the same fluid where it was created, molecule by molecule.  I know it’s still there in with some sense I can’t name.  I can feel its outlines when I try. There are things that prick and ache and itch, but it all seems to exist in the breath.  I watch as emotions come and go, in all their colors, sometimes becoming huge without warning ike bursts of fireworks, expanding into the void forever and then fading away ever so imperceptibly, until each spark is finally extinguished and the moon returns to rule the night sky.

That’s where I went for my summer vacation.  Now, as the air begins to finally cool, I sit at my desk in school to pay attention to what comes next. I wait for the rain and feel breath going out and coming in.  I smell the sharp smell of pencil shavings. I hear the ticking of the classroom clock, the scraping of chairs. The new teacher is here.


Walking in Both Worlds

In the woods a presence floats along
Up over the rocky places
Rough and steep
Finding a place to make its way
Attached as it must be
To the pull of earth
Hearing bird song once,
then again in some other now
And then again

The flies that bite when motion stops
Bite, and bite again 
Tasting what must be sweat on flesh
Causing a pain somewhere
A sharp prick
And are gone
Themselves made of emptiness and light
With some slight sound
A buzz, perhaps a hum.

The air moves all around
The shadows, green and black
Shift back and forth , pushed here and there.
The sky above is blue.
As if of nothing but itself
A sense of heat and dampness
Sings with its liquid notes
Water somewhere on the peripheries of sound.
The deepness of the green.

Up and up through heated air and cool
where other spirits are themselves
Awake. Or perhaps these trees, enormous
And so full of what they have become
Of air and earth and water, quiet
Are asleep and dreaming of this presence
As it floats along
As if in some gel
Of stillness, brewing heat
and love.



An Abandoned Shirt-January 2022

Before Christmas last year, a shirt appeared one day, hung from the neighbor farmer’s wire fence bordering the road. Across the front of the shirt, the name of one of the big French telephone companies was written in white across the dark blue background. I noticed it one day on my afternoon walk. I remembered seeing a white truck parked nearby the day before. I thought I’d wait and see if the owner came to claim it.

Another week went by and then another. In the French manner, no one wanted to take it since it wasn’t polite, and at any rate, no one else could really wear it. And then came the news that a novel virus that had begun in China had spread to the US and then to Europe. It got a name.

Then it seemed no one wanted to touch the shirt to put it in the trash since it might, somehow, be contaminated. Everything around us that other humans could possibly have touched might carry this microscopic, mysterious thing we had come to fear. No one wanted to touch trash dropped on the street even after several days had passed and the virus could not have survived. Each time I passed the shirt it would tempt me, my reason saying it could no longer be infected. Part whim, part perversity, I decided finally to leave it there, caught on the sharp wires, and see what would happen over time. It became a kind of marker, my little science experiment into the nature of the interaction between the decomposition of man-made matter and the surrounding culture.

Since, we have come through two years of being ruled and then ignominiously nosed around by the evolution of this new virus. It is made, like many of its cousins, of only a single strand of RNA that can attach itself to the RNA of an animal’s cells. This thing–not really independently alive since it cannot, by itself, reproduce–finds ways to live by using the strings of RNA or DNA of other cells. It then can cross the threshold between living and non-living carbon-based matter by being able to reproduce itself. Once it invades a cell, the very process of replicating itself damages the cell. These thousands and thousands of tiny injuries are what make us feel ill. Depending on where they have evolved to thrive, these foreign RNA strands can invade organs like the lungs and wreak havoc with the way our body functions.

There have been thousands and thousands of these waves of viral evolution that have gripped populations of humans, particularly since we brought animals close to us to raise and eat. We have helped them find their way to us by relentlessly destroying forest habitats and wetland habitats, where, in our absence, they had adapted to the organisms they had found there. And we, a species now so globally connected that we can talk to people around the world and bind them to us with our love, we, who are so adept at utilizing resources, cannot muster the same level of cooperation and organization displayed by a horde of things only potentially alive.

In the face of the wave of this new virus, there has been a chaos of reactivity. Economies have all but come to a halt, endangering more lives over the long term than even the virus will be able to. Over the course of the last two years in the US, doctors have become public health officials rather than care providers. If you call a doctor to tell them you’re sick (if you’re lucky enough to be able to talk to one) she will likely direct you to whatever protocol is in development at the moment for following rules– rules for testing, reporting and quarantine. She will make it clear she doesn’t have the time to help you with your symptoms. They are unimportant. Her job is to try to keep what you have from spreading.

Then, you’re on your own to find an appointment for a test. In many places in the US at this moment, you’ll really have to scramble to find one, even while you’re so sick you can barely open your eyes. And the US is so much better than more than half of the rest of the world.

In most of our “developed” and wealthy cultures around the globe, parents have been forced to take on more and more of the responsibilities that were shared by other members of their culture. The education of children, the care of young children during the day, even the provision of basic, non-urgent medical care have all been given back to the parent. Parents already stressed by the pressures of a modern competitive society, many on the verge of real break-down before all this, have been forced to add so much more to their load. And then we have forgotten them or even given them the direct message that, for Heaven’s sake, just cope, why don’t you! Do you think you’re special? You’re responsible for your choice to have children. Do you expect your society to share that responsibility?

While many in the privileged world turn down the vaccine for their own considered reasons, over half of the world’s less privileged population is unable to access even the first vaccination. Only a little under fourteen percent of the population of the continent of Africa, for instance, has received at least one dose. Today, I read that a team in the US has developed a vaccine based on older, cheaper vaccine methodology. It simply uses a partially inactivated form of the virus which gets the body to trigger the immune system to fight off that particular piece of RNA. It is already being used and produced in India and will spread rapidly since the technology is not proprietary. It is not quite as effective or adaptable to new viruses, but it will considerably slow the advance of the Alpha and Delta variants. The wind changes because the ice melts and the ice melts because the climate warms. One thing bumping up against another. A shirt forgotten on the fence. People walking by, thinking about it or not thinking.

The shirt eventually turned to a shredded, unidentifiable piece of material, mostly white with a tinge of blue. One garbage day, it was gone, presumably put into the trash by a neighbor who finally felt safe to handle it. Meanwhile, the virus too has been changing. It does not decompose like a shirt made by humans. Instead it evolves. Both occur through random chance. The shirt was subject to the chance of changing weather and human decision-making. Exposed to the same randomness, the nature of the virus shifts in the direction of those changes that allow it to reproduce more copies of that change, more copies of itself. An almost imperceptible change occurs through random mutation and allows more of those tiny individuals to survive. That imperceptible change produces changes in the environment they occupy and on we go.

As humans, we are capable of creating changes in the culture around us. In the ‘60s and ‘70s many of the young people like me looked around and said, “The direction my culture taught me to take is not good. Killing people on the other side of the globe for ridiculously vague reasons (or for matters of greed) is insane. Continuing to make the planet we depend on uninhabitable is not a good path. Being intolerant of others of our species because they have a different color, a different belief, or are not attracted to the opposite sex is not useful. Continuing to overpopulate our home will destroy us. Building nuclear plants whose potential risks far outweigh their benefit to our comfort is stupid.”   We changed the culture around us. We infected things with our love. We changed what was sexy. We consciously changed the human qualities that appealed to our desire to procreate.

This culture, so vibrant and positive, was pushed down and pushed aside by the dominant and powerful ,but its DNA persists in the population. There are variants here and there. Like a virus, these shifts in culture never really go away–they just become endemic. This little attitudinal virus with which I was infected as a sixteen-year old has developed and adapted and is still infecting all the susceptible individuals it encounters on its journey. Now it can reach farther than ever, around the globe, here in France and back to the US, outwards through the internet.

We’re a species rather superb at creating what we can use our big brains to imagine. We’re rather superb at using resources to shape our environment. There is a randomness in the universe that allows for change. Just as the DNA and RNA of all organisms allows for organisms to increase their reproductivity in the soup of randomness, the randomness of it all allows for new opportunities at every moment. We often think, as we try to survive from one day to the next, that there are only one or two choices open to us. There are an infinity of possibilities, each choice opening another avenue of infinity. When something looks like a positive direction, we can feed it, we can make it grow. We can make it expand under the attention of our love. It is clear from where I stand at the age of seventy that this opportunity we have–of living a life here on this planet– is like the water flowing in the river at the bottom of our land. It flows towards the vast ocean, persisting even when reduced to a trickle, carrying with it the impressions it encounters along the way, purified from time to time by the rush of clear water from the mountains and the torrents from the skies.



For Beauties Lost



I cried today
For beauties lost, small moments passed
Sifting through as if an hourglass
Each grain shining as the force of time
Pulls along without a sign
That it too will fall from view
To be caught in well-springs deep within
Where it will glitter briefly
When light slants through, bright and true
And pulls tears of joy and loss
From a heart full since broken
More than twice

My daughter stands by some device
In front of rows of chairs and wooden stage
Violin to chin, making music sing
At some young age,
Such sweetness danced behind my eyes
That tears welled up and I wept
For such a moment deeply kept
Somewhere hidden within a cell
Where only dreams are said to dwell.

And then the moment when,
Having watched and run and breathed
With such abandon on the grass
The ball at last with one swift pass
Arrived just where he’d known it should
My blond young son had kicked it straight
With a slight lithe leap, it flew so neat
And so direct to find
The middle of that net.
Bouncing back, we clapped so hard and cheered
My heart so filled with beauty it was seared
Forever, soaked with love within my mind.

And now, in this moment where I sit
I hear the liquid strains of violin
Coming from a box within
this box that seems to move me right along
Driving past woods themselves alive with song
Blossoms drip from apple trees
Where savage flowers in random beauty grow
Below, so many forms I’ll never know

The liquid that has touched my cheeks
Is that which makes all essence flow
Amidst this green that spring makes grow
I drown in some sweet sorrow
We’ll call love.

My Sorrow Speaking

Travesties unseemly

Small and unremarked as may be

Separating  skin from skin,

The longing lover from beloved

and from love itself.

Tearing at us, clawing.


We are awed and appalled

At the stupefying ignorance of it all.

Of that lying, of that dying

Of the spirit, of the soul


Suspended; not above and not below

And for certain, not within.

Somewhere we are shuddering,

Cowering in our crib.

The world in spin, we cannot move

To stop what is.


Holding fast at last

To some beauty we have seen,

For some brief and shining time.

What we have known to be real,

not some remote ideal.

Searching in the darkness in our chest

for something more

We can see it, shimmering and fine

Faint as if a star at rest

Surviving still that searing fire

Burning at its core.


Insistent,  clinging still around us 

scandalous, yet well outside

Those tender, seemly confines

Of morality and sensibility

Of comparison, of rejection or ejection.

Sordid beyond what we know of degradation

Of what we  learned of abnegation

Of refusal; inadmissible.


All has flown 

To a place so distant

from what we call our home.

The familiar, the known simplicities

The scents, the sounds

that echo in our soul.


Stop! We cry again. Just stop!

But it has not the will to shudder

And be done.

It must have the floor

For all there is to say, and more.


Mind unwound, we find we too have sinned.

So we will stand and cry aloud

And find forgiveness 

In the swirling

of the wind.





The Waxing Moon

There is a time when gold of moon

becomes so rich in hue and light

there is nothing that could

in any way 

surpass this beauty.


And, as it glides so imperceptibly 

toward the darkness of the mountain 


the sorrow of the moment 

becomes so hard to bear;

such sadness that this beauty 

will so soon vanish 

and  will never again 

be this.


And then the morning light begins

to touch the tops 

of those same dark hills 

And turns the bare trees of winter 

to such a deep and burnished gold

the skies themselves

tremble ‘round their edge with awe

as they in turn become suffused

with a brilliant and vibrating blue 

as never before 

was seen.


Oh, what to do! Oh, what to do!

Can any moment become 

an infinity in itself?

Can time be stopped 

and nothing else 

be added to this instant

But expand forever only

and  be deepened ?






The wind in the autumn trees fills the air

With an ease that settles deep

Into the waiting land

Filling it with  the beauty it will store 

Through the times of chill and darkness

Just as it settles like grains of golden light

Into the widest spaces

Deep within me 

Where the expanse of earth 

And stars and wind and sunlight

All reside.


Here, in a last wave of beauty

Before bare winter

Brings its black and browns 

To linger soft against the  green of firs,

A golden tapestry unfolds across the hills

As full of light in pouring rain and flowing mists 

As when the sun breaks through in evening

Just before the dark.


Take it as a sign 

that we are here in light and darkness, both

Reflecting light through every pore

Storing light, as do the leaves.

Releasing light

In that approaching night.



It’s been two months  since I’ve returned from my trip to the States.  The summer here in France, cool and wet much of the time then suddenly very hot and dry before retuning to rain, has now turned the corner into fall. The time has gone by as if it were a heron on it’s flight home. Today, looking back through a lens, I can just make out the whirlwind that swept me there and back.

I prepared as best I could for the trip. I had waited for a moment when Macron had clearly said that Americans would be able to travel to France if they were vaccinated. I should be able to get back to my home in the Ariege.  I bought my round-trip tickets. For weeks, I gathered presents and thought about what I would bring to each of the people I would see. It seemed so very long since I’d put my arms around any of them.

I packed carefully, unpacked and repacked the two suitcases I could now take. It was allowed as part of the ticket package I had to buy in order to anticipate yet another border closure. I made sure I could access the Covid-19 vaccine certificate on my smartphone. I printed out a copy, just in case. I checked and double-checked the other requirements for entry to the US from France and for my re-entry. I contacted all the people I hoped to stay with and those I’d visit. 

My daughter had used up all her time-off from her job coping with two young children in a small apartment. She had patched together expensive child care for the summer but was missing a week, so I chose that time.  I felt a pang of deep regret that the US doesn’t care enough about its people to provide such basic services as care for young children. Most other relatively well-to-do countries see such things as human rights. I looked forward to taking my granddaughter (who I’d seen only in two dimensions for so long) to the parks of Seattle, getting to know her again in her eight-year old form. What transformations would this unusual time have produced in her developing personality, in the expanse of her mind? How would my three year old granddaughter react to someone who she really only knew from a computer screen.

The day arrived when I would begin the first stage of my trip. Thunderstorms were predicted for the afternoon. My plane would leave early the next morning from Toulouse.  I’d booked a hotel room near the airport for the brief night I’d spend before launching myself into space. We left plenty of time to drive from our village to the castle town of  Foix  so I could catch my afternoon train to Toulouse. I had scheduled a taxi to take me the few blocks from the motel to the airport the next morning, knowing from my last trip how sudden downpours  could keep  me from walking the few blocks.

On the way to Foix, the skies opened. Rain poured down so hard I could barely see to drive. Winds gusted with such force that big branches were falling here and there on the road. When we finally got to the autoroute, the storm had almost ended but, somehow, as happens unexpectedly, something had blocked the tunnel that diverts traffic around Foix. The traffic jam to get through Foix would delay us at least another hour. I might barely make it to my train.

The delay got longer and longer. By the time we arrived, frazzled, at the station and I ran to see if perhaps the train itself had been delayed a few minutes, the people walking back from the platform told me the train to  had been totally cancelled. No one knew why, but it was uncertain whether any more trains would come through that evening. Someone speculated that branches had fallen on the tracks. We would have to drive to Toulouse and Walter would have to drive back alone– without a license. “Trust to the Fates and let it go,” we agreed.

We made the trip, I checked in and we said our good-byes. I found a hotel restaurant within walking distance, had a decent meal and tucked in for the night, checking all my papers and passport before falling asleep for the few hours I had before my alarm went off. Walter called when he got home to tell me he’d made it back without incident. The back roads had been quiet and clear.  I could now turn off the lights and drift off.

Waking with a start to my alarm, I got dressed quickly and wheeled my bags down to the lobby, empty at 3:30 am. A man, dark-skinned like so many in the hotel trade in Toulouse, was preparing the croissants and pastries for the breakfast that wouldn’t  be available for another hour. I said “Bonjour” and asked if I might have a croissant to take with me. He smiled, wrapped one in a napkin and handed it to me. I turned to walked through the glass doors to start the long, long day travelling across an ocean and a continent.

In that enchanted time of day, the air was dry, dark and silent. I could be anywhere in the universe.  I grappled with the parking lot gate, feeling dopey for not getting it, read the sign again, tried the directions again–no luck. The nice man from the lobby had fortunately stepped out for a cigarette. I motioned to him that I was stuck and he sprinted over to help me. I slipped through the gate saying “Merci, Monsieur. Vous êtes si gentil”.  He, smiling indulgently again and saying “Pas de tout, Madame. Au Revoir!” went back to his duties in the dark motel.

I stood on the sidewalk waiting for my taxi. I waited ten minutes, called the number I had and got no answer. Another five minutes passed. Worried, I figured I’d better start walking. Turning on the GPS on my phone, I began to walk towards the airport. The instructions became more and more obscure. Was I really supposed to walk through this back alley? Couldn’t be.

Beginning to imagine various disasters, I turned around and started again, my heart starting to race. Before I could get back to the beginning, a taxi pulled up beside me. Was it my taxi or some random taxi looking for rides? It was my ride, come looking for me, cross that I hadn’t waited. His last ride had taken longer than expected and he had come as quickly as he could.

I made my plane easily. The woman who checked me in verified my negative PCR test. No one ever asked again. No one ever asked at all to see the vaccine certificate that had caused me such anxiety.

It seemed that I had chosen to travel in the window of time between that time when it had not been possible to fly from France to the US (except for “essential” reasons) and when a real onslaught of bookings were made. The plane was only about a third full. Anyone who wanted to stretch out on three seats was able to. I won’t say that it was actually comfortable, but it was so much better than sleeping fitfully almost upright, fearing that at any moment you might fall over on the person next to you or drool on their shoulder, that it felt like sheer and unanticipated luxury.

I arrived in San Francisco airport a bit earlier than scheduled. The airport in Toulouse, although busy even in the early morning, had been quiet. You could hear conversations here and there around you, but the general noise of human activity was subdued.

Here in San Francisco, as I walked out into the big hall, it was as if the volume had been suddenly turned up by some unseen hand. Groups of people went by, masked but still managing to speak loudly enough to be heard for a good distance. The men were particularly loud–their laughter was loud, they gesticulated broadly and spoke as if addressing a group in a bar full of music and chatter. The background music was loud. The announcements were loud.

But not everyone was loud. There were the older couples sitting quietly together, just as in France. There were small families with a child old enough to be looking at their phone or Ipad sitting  quietly together. There were lots of individual adults of all shapes and sizes, walking aimlessly or determinedly, a small rolling suitcase following behind. But then there were the groups of young people that looked like sport teams off somewhere for a meet, talking continuously, laughing giddily, unmasked for the most part. I was overwhelmed by the activity and the noise. I found my gate and sat for the hour or so of my waiting time, looking at my phone like everyone else, creating a little shell around me, drawn every few moments to peer sideways into the lives of the other humans around me. They were all going somewhere different from the place where they usually found themselves, each now having arrived on a new stage, some easy with their lines, some searching for direction.

The plane to Seattle carried the same noisy little groups, their members calling out to the flight attendants for this or that. Things seemed quite amiable. People were enjoying the opportunity to travel again. They were light-hearted. I thought “I actually like this about Americans. We don’t tend to put a lid on things.” I began to remember what it was like to be in this place, to be so accustomed to it that it really was all that existed.

When we arrived in Seattle, I was still feeling pretty fit, despite only an hour or two of sleep here and there for about twenty-eight hours. I had been drinking lots of water during the flights, and eating only fruits and a bit of vegetables and bread. It seemed to help. While I waited for my bag at the Seattle airport, I turned around once clockwise to reset my body’s orientation as instructed by my learned friend . No one stared. I found my way through the fairly familiar landmarks of the airport and walked the long trek to the light rail station. It seemed like miles.

The train ride gave me time to settle into the now-strange atmosphere. A country with myriad cultures I have lived a life in, a city I have come to know over forty years though never my home, now they are places that dwell only in holograms in my mind. Being present in them again gave me the sensation that I had suddenly been sucked through some hole in the universe into an ongoing film. And I hadn’t been hired to play a role. I had to figure out where I fit in the unfolding screen-play.

At the first stop, a young woman covered in tattoos, her blond hair cropped close, skillfully lugged her bike through the open train doors, shifted it around and slid it into a space reserved for bikes. She sat down across from me and at a slight angle as not to intrude. Looking ahead, a wisp of a smile played briefly around her lips, an acknowledgement of my attention. As we pulled out of the station, she turned her head towards me and asked,

“You coming from the airport?”

“Yes” I responded. “I’ve just arrived from France.”

She nodded. 

“You must be tired.”

I remembered my line  in the script. The tenderness between us had awakened it.

“Yeah, that’s true. It’s a really long trip, especially now with Covid.”

We were done. She lapsed into silence, her eyes unfocused, gazing at the other side of the car. We traveled together in a kind of satisfying peace until we reached her station and she reversed her deft actions with her bike. As she paused for a slight moment to wait for the doors, she looked over her shoulder towards me and said with a warm smile,

“Have a good stay. It was nice to meet you”.

“Thanks! You have a good day, too.” I replied, returning the little wave of warmth in my own smile.

The next stage of my journey had begun. I was a long way from home, but home.