Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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The late sun glances off the mountain,
wincing the eyes like wind — it is good,
sometimes, to be blinded,
to walk in the bleached hollow-way of shadows,
nothing but glow
and self, and this body
reduced to an object in the wind,
thrilling into it, until a small singing begins,
the toneless vibrations of air circling the ear-chambers
and, in unison, humming some wordless child’s tune
under-audibly in the throat —
a sort of bliss, as in dancing, when I like best
to close my eyes
and lean into motion and sound,
the slight contact with another body,
the floor and my feet too well acquainted to be uneasy with one another,
and through my eyelids the light is color, not sight.
A child wakes alone in the room and guesses,
for the first time, the word separate.
The next room is too far, the child cries
and holds out her arms,
and mother forgets to enter in darkness.
There is a moment when the light comes on that the child
forgets what light is;
for a moment it is a new way of not-seeing,
a more exalted fright than the dark;
then out of it the voice, the hands, the first face
discovered all over again.
Though the child will drowse in arms, comforted,
the recognition of solitude remains,
becomes an imaginary friend, the one who walks just behind,
needing to be led, to be reassured.
I remember the last day of drama class,
trust games on the side of a mountain in Virginia —
walking blindfolded, led by my partner
then let go, nothing but light
through the doubled gauze, and Peter’s voice crying “Run, run!”
and I ran.
I am walking now, Lord. See
how my arms are open.