The wind wraps a thick-corded hand

5:10 pm

The wind wraps a thick-corded hand around the house and hums. Moving shadows—must be the neighbor’s trees—pass bars of light and dark over the kitchen table through the blinds. I have a pot of chili to make for a party on Saturday, but what I really want to do is curl up in bed with a book and listen to the wind. But I won’t; I’ll bow to the quotidian (laundry, packing) and honor anticipation (a party!) and carve my way through the wind-thick evening.


The woman’s wrist

Warmth layered under still chilly air, like a woman’s wrist flashing free of its sleeve. Yesterday’s sudden spring snow has all melted away. Even though the air under the shadows has a forbidding bite, people take off hats and jackets and even sit on the lawns, in full sun, as content as if this were an equatorial beach and not the mercurial transition from winter to spring in New England.

I’ve woken up to birdsong every morning since Saturday, song before the full happening of dawn. Notes suspend in the cerulean glow, astonishingly loud and bright. I can’t quite believe that spring has arrived, again, not as a gradual thaw but more like a violent rupture. For weeks, there were no birds and there was no warmth. Then on a day unexpectedly, there was not simply one song or one bird, but a chorus of them, breaking the blue quiet into tens of dozens of brighter shards. Snow receded by the hour, watering the streets and churning to mud on the campus quads.

Robins in the yards, crocuses up through the grass. Gloves left at home, and the thin hunkered endurance required to get through the winter months shrugged off like a coat. I open and close my bare hands as I walk down the street, as if I could grasp the warmth, elusive but tangible, slipping through them.

Long winter, full of blank weeks

Long winter, full of blank weeks broken by the bitter days. Snows that fell a foot at a time, then froze in grimy banks along the streets. Days when I paid the extra 50¢ for milk at the upscale convenience shop because it was too cold to walk the extra five blocks to the Stop & Shop.

Now crocuses are opening like children’s eyes in the front yard and daffodils stretch their green arms all along the sidewalks. Trees are tipped with sticky purple or brushed with gauzy yellow. Spring, stalwart, persistent, is laying siege to winter.

All fall and winter, I didn’t write. Not posts, not poetry, not journal entries; I sent emails (the new long-form epistle) to a few close friends on a daily basis, and I hunkered down. I finished one semester and started another all in the cold gray blanket of winter. I took standardized tests, filled out applications, submitted them, and then spent the wait on Sanskrit, Tibetan, and the small communities I work with in New Haven. Winter was a hibernation, like it usually is—but the past 18 months have been one long reduction in my creative metabolism, regardless of the season, an internal winter. Gradually I’ve turned my energy more and more to the classroom and my sanghas, until (honestly) I wasn’t writing or photographing much at all. I miss the creativity, but I also chose to focus myself on other areas, in part as preparation for possible graduate school. Open hours became the open pages of dictionaries and glossaries. I’ve bent to foreign grammars and classic texts, and felt my hours bent by them.

Now, a change of season, internal and external. I was accepted into the Master’s of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School, and I’ll be moving to Cambridge in June. A very new life, in some ways. An apartment instead of a community-based sangha. Full-time graduate student life, and not simply the earnest but side-line participation of an auditor. A return to basic spiritual questions: what is faith? What is practice? What is the dharma to me? What am I in the dharma? A new city, even if I won’t be leaving New England and her winters. Hopefully, as I shuffle my responsibilities and obligations around and have, in some senses, a chance to shape a different kind of daily life than I’ve had in New Haven, I’ll also be able to return to writing and photography on a daily basis. There are other changes too, still only intimated at, unfurling through the spring and summer, the long internal winter opening into what may be an equally long and newly verdant spring.