July 15, 1998
Early July, 1948. The air was filled with the rich odor of roses and when the light summer wind stirred the trees there came through the open window of the car the heavy scent of lilac or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering peony as I arrived in Weiser, Idaho.
It was merely an accident. Sitting some time ago under the shade of the tall Laurel bush in a bamboo chair. When the sunlight slipped over the polished leaves, when I was eighteen.
He was in the kitchen shaving in front of a mirror on the round wooden kitchen table. The blade of the long razor cutting across the soft hair on his face and the white soap.
His mother was frying bacon and eggs and thick sliced potatoes. I had a strange feeling that I had been there before. That I had always been there with Bev Smith in Idaho.
A bamboo gate opened into a rock and sand garden with a cloud shaped window covered with rice paper. The night moon shined in the gold room.
The grass beneath the trees was new and the turquoise of a summer sky held a few white clouds. Two goldfish alone in a bowl. Bev sat beside me in Nancy's cafe. He put a quarter in the music box. It played "It's Been A Long, Long Time." We danced.
La Fuite De La Lune, Les Silhouettes, The Grave of Keats, Theocritus in Sicily, In The Gold Room, A Harmony, The Grave of Shelley, By The Arno, The Oleauder On The Wall... To grasp and slay the shuddering night, All careless of my heart's delight or if the nightingale should die.
Coming home, the road was a shadow of purple between the trees, a rustle of a squirrel running up a pole and a million stars in the Idaho sky. A faint blush on my face as he looked at me in the mirror through the dark shadows of the night moon.
Stepping forward, he was my favorite and I wondered later if he had gone to war against the last emperor of Vietnam and brought back porcelain of Bleu de Hue from the imperial city. If he had married a wife with ivory hands who played the piano on ivory keys. Forgetting me and the stars when he kissed me.
He turned and stopped the truck by the side of the cabin in the warm summer night. Heard from afar the measured roll of drums. Black the snake river below, a new quarter moon shimmering with gold. Roses red and white in the rose gardens of Samarkand. Yellow poppies below where the Nez Perez, with bare and bloody feet arrows pierce the buffalo clutching the flag the dead boy lies. Now in the garden the lilies are almost finished and the wind has cooled. It's quieter now except for the distant thunder and lingering rose.
The next day I was gone. I bit my lip. I didn't ask him to stop. Does he remember me with his secret smile? I found him by starlight and lost the love I liked most by the soft flowing river of Idaho.
In my day dreams lying on the corner of the divan with the Persian saddlebags, I could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-colored blossoms of a laburnum in Isfahan and the shadows of birds in flight across the scrub grass and rose-beige minarets. I could still see him on his horse riding away through the apple trees vanishing over the pass.
Blackbirds fly across my path at evening now as I wander through the gentle ups and downs of small paths surprisingly open to a clearing among the trees into an inner garden of love and blue butterflies where the moon withdraws in a veil of yellow gauze, leaving only these words and the evening star.