Mark Golden took a vow of silence, but still
he had to come to Wide Valley Station and wait half a day
to get his car fixed, same as me. I had my pickup in
and sat in the only seat left in the waiting room.
I must have said something to this guy in the next seat,
who was also not reading ragged copies of People
or Car and Driver: how dismal to pass a clear July
day on plastic chairs indoors with cigarette butts.
Turns out he was down from the Buddhist place
in his second week of silence when he got this break.
One thing leads to another, and we do our waiting outside.
It must be hard to be still for a day unless you’re alone,
but for such an easy talker! Mark Golden said
he had already talked too much in his life. The harm
he’d done to his family, his wife, his children by talking
was bad enough, but on top of that, he was a professional
talker, a consulting psychologist in New York City.
He smiled when he said he ruined lives for a living.
You’d have taken this all for raving but for his warm,
casual tone, as though he was my brother talking family.
When his car was ready, we shook hands, said goodbye,
and he told me this was his last conversation, and not only
for the Buddhist retreat. He was buttoning his lip once and for all.
Two months later — twenty years ago now — I get a postcard
from India with only a signature: “Mark Golden.”