SUDDEN DARSHAN AT THE WHITE SALMON RIVER

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I am twenty years old again, locked inside a room dominated by mirrors and by fierce, unforgiving light in which women hide their scars with makeup and men rake rotted leaves of hair across abandoned skulls. That is where you found me, swallowed by a darkness that lives inside intensity of light, as one man is alive inside another.

Forty-three years go by.

I am standing above the White Salmon River, prayer beads clicking between my thumb and middle finger. I call a name I say is yours but know as my own. A name both beautiful and hollow, the sound of one rock rolling against another in the current of the river. Feel a sudden rising of the water, a pressure on my face of emptiness and joy, as if the eyes have been invaded by sky.

The body is a dam built to hold the river but my body can’t contain the searing happiness of water when the dam breaks and the levee starts giving way! Now my hands are in the air! Without asking my permission, the fingers become dervishes dancing for the pleasure of the sky! The thumbs are solemn priests waiting for the silence to return but even they are stiff with a laughter only the deaf can hear with their heads at rest upon a singing stone.

Listen.

Unable to be drowned, I am carried whirling down the river! There! There I go.

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