Wednesday, July 25, 2012

At the bottom of the hill, ruins stretch away into the distance, clay brick foundations of homes and other structures long since abandoned because of an adverse climate perhaps, or invading hordes. You have to ask the archeologists if you want the full picture, or read the literature the archeologists have left in their wake, literature which is, nonetheless, difficult to get your hands on, if only because your hands tend always to be in your pockets. I like the layout of the place, recall it later and describe it to friends who have little chance of visiting themselves because their lives are centered around careers that do not leave one time to appreciate that which is not somehow tied up with dividends and miniature calendars printed on card stock. Immanuel stops long enough for a photograph at a place where a stream once meandered through and the monkeys gathered in the trees to bark at one another and throw seed pods in a relatively complicated way that suggested, to some observers at least – those with a particular interest in passing on colorful anecdotes while simultaneously suppressing all evidence that went counter to their own deepest religious beliefs -- a rudimentary form of gambling. Immanuel laments the loss of such creatures, the ominous silence now where before there had been sound. Or something very like sound even if there was no one present to register it. I get the feeling sometimes that Immanuel doesn’t recognize me anymore. Oh sure, there is the little matter of his saying my name out loud at such regular intervals, it threatens to drive me insane, but that seems more of a bad habit than anything else. It is the look in his eyes I am referring to, a strange gray fixity I’ve seen only once previously, on a man who I didn’t know but who insisted on following me around when I was trying to buy soapstone for carving at a market upriver. His hands were mottled and his liver diseased and I was only able to escape him finally by pointing out a black condor making enormous ovals in the sky. I told the man to pray for it because it was obviously lost and required, at the very least, some manner of divine intervention. For his part, Immanuel has earned the right to look past and through anyone he encounters, even someone like me who has traipsed along beside him lo, these many months. Slogged through the same inundated fields. Endeavored to treat the same ailments with iodine and zinc.           

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