November 25, 2009
My friend and I were in an elevator and when the door opened we stepped out into his village in Greece. The ground was lush with soft green grass. There was dew on the grass, and a drowsy blue dragonfly on his coat. There was a small gathering of people. They were his friends and relatives, but there were also some strangers present. In halting English, a man greeted me and asked my name. He was in his sixties. His face was broad and weathered by the elements. His hair, what was left of it, was gray. I told him my name. He said, “William. What does that mean. William.” Before I could answer, he started speaking in Greek. Then he wandered off. I was alone. It occurred to me then that I would have to learn Greek. I told myself that it would be easy, if I let it be easy. I said a few words, and when I couldn’t understand them, I smiled, because they seemed to fit in with the conversation I’d heard so far. There was a wall beside me now. A wall without a ceiling. I could hear Greek voices coming from the other side of the wall. My friend was beside me now. His eyes were bright with happiness. He needed a shave. It reminded me of my childhood, and touching the stubble on my father’s face. I looked at my palm. I wondered if I should. I did. He closed his eyes. “Brothers,” I said. We were now at the edge of a granite cliff. Dark clouds, patches of blue sky. A man’s shadow on the opposite wall of the canyon. Far below, a river from my youth, an old road beside it, small enough to be a worm in my hand.