Road to Pernem

You should have known what kind of day it was going to be when the tears sprang into your eyes at the sight of a man losing his shoe.

He was walking on the side of the road and his sandal slipped off. When he turned to retrieve it, the motion felt like falling. It felt like sighing, like shaking your head as you stare at the pebbly ground, like being just a person, after all, a person with feet that sometimes let a shoe fly, so carelessly.

Days like this are particularly vivid, when a rooster scurries across the road in front of your scooter, and he is not merely someone's future lunch, out for a jaunt, he is all of Creation in a small flightless bird.

The trees are your brothers, every leaf made by Him just as every cell of you is quivering with His breath. You are called out of your body by fields, by gardens and water drops flying, by haystacks so casually symmetrical and golden.

Flowers are almost your undoing, on this kind of day. You almost can't look. It's not decent to be that beautiful.

An old man with glasses sits on a wall in his undershirt and slacks, belt hitched to a comfortable place above his waist. He looks up as you pass, his wrist, roped with veins and tendons, resting on his knee. Jackfruit slowly ripening, palm groves as tall as a cathedral that calls you to come and worship, a woman threshing her rice, clouds of chaff flying out from her. She is the center.

The women at the well, drawing water.

You remember that there was a time when you wondered if anything would ever be as beautiful to you here as home was.

Not every day is exquisite, most days end up having too many pees on the floor, but today is unspeakable. In the cool of the early morning, you drive on and on, wondering if at some point your wheels will just leave the pavement completely and you will be in the sky.