A Walk with Tom Jefferson1988Since I don't know who will be readingthis or even if it will be read, I mustinvent someone on the other endof eternity, a distant cousin laboringunder the same faint stars I laboredall those unnumbered years ago. I make youlike me in everything I can -- a manor woman in middle years who havinglost whatever faiths he held goes onwith only the faith that even morewill be lost. Like me a wanderer,someone with a taste for coastal townssparkling in the cold winter sun, boardwalkswithout walkers, perfect beaches shroudedin the dense fogs of December, morning cafesbefore the second customer arrives,the cats have been fed, and the proprietorstops muttering into the cold dishwater.I give you the gift of language, my giftand no more, so that wherever you gowords fall around you meaning no morethan the full force of their making, and youtranslate the clicking of teeth againstteeth and tongue as morning light spillinginto the enclosed squares of a white town,breath drawn in and held as the oceanwhen no one sees it, the waves still,the fishing boats drift in a calm beyond sleep.The gift of sleep, too, and the wakingfrom it day after day without knowingwhy the small sunlit room with its single bed,white counterpane going yellow, and bare floorholds itself with such assurancewhile the flaming nebulae of dustswirl around you. And the sense not to ask.Like me you rise immediately and siton the bed's edge and let whatever dreamof a childhood home or a rightful placeyou had withdraw into the long shadowsof the tilted wardrobe and the one chair.Before you've even washed your face yousee it on the bedoilied chiffonier -- there,balanced precariously on the orange you boughtat yesterday's market and saved for now.Someone entered soundlessly while you sleptand left you sleeping and left this postcardfrom me and thought to close the doorwith no more fuss than the moon makes.There's your name in black ink in a handas familiar as your own and notyour own, and the address even youdidn't know you'd have an hour beforeyou got it. When you turn it over,there it is, not the photo of a star,or the bright sailboats your sister wouldhave chosen or the green urban meadowsmy brother painted. What is it? It could beanother planet just after its birthexcept that at the center the colorsare earth colors. It could be the cloudthat formed above the rivers of our blood,the one that brought rain to a dry timeor took wine from a hungry one. It couldbe my way of telling you that I tooburned and froze by turns and the face Icame to was more dirt than flame, itcould be the face I put on everything,or it could be my way of sayingnothing and saying it perfectly.
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