Lovers Under the Moon, by Shin Yun-bok, aka Hyewon (1758–1813) - painting of two lovers outside a hanok, a traditional Korean courtyard-centered compound dwelling.

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This is what’s happening now:

  • Rain, fine yet driving hard, a misty veil that shifts and sparkles in the sun.
  • Wind in the trees at two levels, like two thicknesses of silk, one of organza being quietly folded, the other of taffeta in the hands of someone who wants to shred it and throw it away.
  • Thunder to the west.
  • Leaves flipped by the wind.
  • Blue sky behind fast-moving clouds.
  • Birds never quiet, bees unafraid.
  • The background hiss of a stream broken by groups of stones, memorials to ancient ice-sheet retreat.

This is: a sudden storm, shaped by the knotted peaks and valleys of two mountains, here, in the rumpled Catskills.

Below the storm is: me, and this place where I live.

Last night some animal screamed for minutes at a time. I don’t know what it was. I heard it last year at about the same time, and was scared then. This time I was respectful.

A bluejay flies into an apple tree’s darkened hollows, another calls loudly (which I interpret as it shouting, “this is mine, this land… it’s ours!”), and a small, brown bird seems to chuckle while flying through the misty rain. The thunder is louder. The internet connection goes out.

Jump cut to an imaginary, miniature girl, sitting on the edge of the round, wet, wooden table on the deck, legs dangling. She dreams she’s resting on a pyung sang (a platform-table in the courtyard of a hanok, a traditional Korean compound dwelling), shielded by a parasol.

She’s high up, compared to her tiny size. About five body-lengths above the ground, she enjoys balancing risk and safety, like I do. If she falls, she’ll be crushed. So she doesn’t fall. She lives on, a story-to-be.

The storm is off to the southeast now, its thunder low and distant. Rain-glossed leaves in many different greens shape themselves around open spaces where birds sleep, this early evening, just for now.

I sit and practice cursive, in a ragged hand that’s hard to read. Life is on one side of my nervous motion, and the certainty of death is on the other.

That quality of contrast — or more precisely, the boundary between two different things — is one of the things I like best in life. Like truth and dreams. Or facts and stories. Or practicality and love.

Or, courage’s strength, and the innocent tenderness that feels like fear but isn’t. And then, to take things to the next step, our universe’s requirements of compassion, persistence, gentleness, and redemption.

This is an awkward narrative. I’m grateful that I can see that, and say it, too, and that I can end this writing, even if gracelessly, and not diminish myself by doing so.



Image credit:
Lovers Under the Moon, by Shin Yun-bok, aka Hyewon (1758–1813) – painting of two lovers outside a hanok, a traditional Korean courtyard-centered compound dwelling.

From Wikipedia. Painting by Shin Yun-bok. Originally found at:
Shin Yun-bok [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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