I sit in my garden at 1:30 am waiting for an epiphany,
longing, Saul on the road to Damascus, to be relieved.
Even though I don’t believe salvation comes through lightning,
I long for quick and fast.
I believe salvation comes through knowing and accepting,
though I do not know of what or how.
Not tonight but the night before I met a man
who has lived twenty-five years under a large tree in India
where there is snow and a trail to Tibet
where Chinese soldiers have orders to shoot you on sight.
The trail, narrow as a snake, winds along the side of mountains.
The Chinese soldier who saw him, wearing no shoes,
asked his blessing and gave him his combat boots.
He lives off wild strawberries that look like raspberries –
I saw a photo on his friend’s cell phone – and a kind of wild spinach.
And mushrooms that grow only after lightning strikes the ground.
I wait for an epiphany.
In a US city he wear shoes, soft sportive clothes, and a white newsboy hat.
He smiles without end, and seldom speaks.
He glows as someone might who eats mushrooms that grow after lightning strikes.
I wait in my garden with my dog, discomforted.
Three days ago I had lunch with a rare beauty in her early 70s,
enthralled by a rocker, singer-songwriter – enthralled!
They whirl and dance, enchantress and enchanter.
He has wings tattooed on his back.
She calls him panther, he calls her slow burn.
She is famous, on the cover of a magazine right now,
wearing a hat made of a nest with golden eggs.
She writes of their sex life, real and imagined –
she will create a perfume for them and the book.
The perfume will be named “text.” He is 37.
She removed her large black straw hat and blue sunglasses
under the mottling trees. Our lunch was salmon with avocado
and chia seed pudding with raspberries.
I had not seen her in over a year.
“You have ‘Z’ on your forehead.”
“Yes,” she said, “it is a tattoo.”
“You have been struck by lightning.”
Two night ago, I saw my own young lover after months of parting.
He told me he missed me, us, talking, being.
That was not an epiphany, except in being stated.
It was getting things good and right.
He will help “Z” find a perfumery.
Perhaps we will create our own perfume,
something for what we cannot have.
I wait, in the garden, discomforted, for lightning – and rain.
I look to a man who lives under a tree
and a woman who loves madly
and a librettist who may make an opera of a play I wrote
and a once lover who will be a friend forever
and a widower who flees grief, likes bullfights, and touches my heart
and a phalanx of delicate and mighty women who fight demons with me –
and a singer-songwriter (not hers, but mine) who breaks through reasonable living
by the ruckus of his untamed genius.
These people and more sit with me as I sit in the dark,
knowing there is no lightning of reprieve,
understanding, or accepting of what has happened
to the others now with us –
children beheaded in Iraq,
people turned into body parts in Gaza,
the dead from plague in West Africa.
Numbers beyond immensity dead in Syria.
And this is the crux:
How do we dance on the head of the pin during slaughter?
How do we create perfume?
How do we eat chia seeds with raspberry topping?
I cannot put their suffering in a drawer
for after my vacation or rendezvous or lunch.
Symphony of friends and lovers – simplest of lives,
most stylish of lives – lift me lift me lift me.
I am split between ecstasy and pain.
Did lightning already strike? Was I torn apart silently?
A rabbit, a first, just hopped across the end of my garden
– not poetic license. It is a city garden, it is 2:00 am.
Two of us awake in this strange land,
searching for a kind of wild spinach or berry,
or mushroom that grows only after lightning strikes.