So old, memory failed, he’d forgotten he was ready for death —
one last star at sunrise, just beyond his grasp. Joy!
Bookmark, Page 470, Poems, Notes, and Drawings
I sat on a rock in the shade, not far from the water’s edge. Three small boats were out, each carrying but one person. Two were floating with the current. The other, by means of an uneven-sounding outboard motor, was traveling slowly upstream. The captain of this boat was an older man, wearing a long-sleeved green work shirt and a simple gray cap. Being closer than the others, he saw me and waved. I waved back.
Coming when it did, his simple gesture seemed nothing short of a miracle. More so, I think, than if he’d stopped his motor, stood up, and, with outstretched arms, walked toward me across the water. The man waving was a private miracle — a small accident entirely unsuitable for grand or religious purposes, and therefore something to be treasured. The kind of miracle that rarely happens, because so many unrelated elements must be receptively aligned. The kind of miracle that proves there are no unrelated elements, and that all things are subtly and delicately intertwined. The kind of miracle that in fact does happen all the time, but goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Weeds, soil, ash, roads, insects, buildings, sky, young women with cell phones, old men with cigars, waterfalls, hands reaching out, the sun, peaches hanging ripe on a tree, a first kiss, the hush of mortality, mothers expecting their first child, sorrow and joy, the thrill of discovery, the mysterious past wound as tightly as a ball of string, fresh-baked bread, confetti, a dead man’s shoes, leaves found in a park, a child’s first birthday. The kind of miracle that makes life what it is — a painful, sweet, maddening, befuddling journey. The kind of miracle that says, Listen.
From Chapter 7, A Listening Thing
Tenth Anniversary Authorized Print Edition
Cosmopsis Books, 2011