...is memory. Afternoon sun is flowing through the window over my desk and embracing the far-flung flotsam of my past—a string of buddhist prayer beads, a small zuni fetish, a vase of birthday peonies.
The beads are from the Toda-ji temple, the size of English peas, brown and marbled. I remember so fondly my solitary trip to Nara, the temple with its enormous buddha, the Kasuga shinto shrine with its deep moss and 3000 ancient stone lanterns.
The fetish is a wolf, carved from selenite, clear and hard but shot through with misty fractures. It came out of the Arizona desert and I can still smell the desert's pervading odor of spice, feel its dust in my nose, see its sky overfull of stars.
The peonies are pink confections of petals like the disheveled feathers of a swan's wing, cut from a suburban garden. My memories are full of gardens—well-planned, well-worked, well-loved, anticipated, abandoned.
But in this sunny moment of afternoon, I'm abandoned by nothing at all—all my gardens are here with me. So is the desert, and so is that oasis of a Japanese shrine. The fetish glitters like a jewel, the beads look soft as warm earth, and the peonies glow as softly as a lantern flame in the moist twilight. I sit and watch the sunlight move across my desk as the day fades, I watch the light abandon my souvenirs one by one, and I know, too, that one day the light of these memories will wink out. But not now, not yet. And so I sit, embraced by sunlight, surrounded by my past, with memory flowing through me.