cold mountain (56)

Call friends over when you have wine

Four aspects of the table:

1. The cardinal’s morning song, sharp bright sounds that seem, to my simple ear, like a Marsh Tit’s characteristic “squeaky wheel,” but with more force. It’s a welcoming sound, without alarm or elaboration. Our cardinals live in the four-story magnolia in front of the house and dominate the yard with their chirps and ruddy visibility.

2. The magnolia’s enclosing shade around a sturdy lace-work of branches, perfect for climbing. This is a southern magnolia, an American magnolia, and not like the small, delicate trees of Korea. The blooms here lasted several week, like sculptures of flowers more than flowers themselves, regal and enduring, gleaming.

3. The grit of bark in my eyes, the rough skin of it against my indoor-soft palms and soles. We climbed the tree yesterday, slipping through the lowest hem of leaves into a shaded, musty place. First one of us clambered up, agile, and sat with animal comfort seven or eight feet off the ground. Then another, more cautiously, finding a younger set of trees which rose at an angle: she walked partway up, before lodging to watch the comings and goings of the house, unseen. I tried, shimmying up a low-slung bough. My feet stung: examining them this morning, I realized the skin had torn, like tissue paper giving way to the stronger hands of the world.

4. The heat of the day lingering in the brick and black of walls and roofs, and that heat along our entire spines as we, supine, watch the night sky. Satellites flashing and fading, airplanes, the hospital’s helicopter, the generators, the stars flickering against the light pollution of the city and university, bats, updrafts and downdrafts, intermittent rain, and once, fireworks…

Chinese and English on pp. 74-75, here.


One comment on “cold mountain (56)

  1. A wonderfully written post, and thoughtful about things you remember. Hope your summer in Virginia was a good one. Now on to Colorado and Idaho.

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