Pinwheel Mile

The night clouds form an obscured figure of an old Persian king in his sleeping clothes, lying on his side in some remote oasis. The wind was faint, but the low temperature of the final season was definitely there.  The colorful flicking lights were replaced by the blankets of the drowsy lights from an antique bedroom lampshade and the sidewalk lamp posts outside.

With this discerning conclusion that the night has already passed me by, what remains faithful was the stench of sweat and cigarette smoke on my shirt.

It was getting late so I figured that I retire and went back to the apartment. I double locked the door, rushed into my room, then climbed up on a wooden chair and drew the curtains open to let some of the moonlight in.

My fingers ran through the stacked records in the wooden shelf, breezing through the oxymoron album titles, taking the time to reach for a decision. One of the hardest I should say, to pick the most definitive one.

After giving it some thought, I picked one Kath bloom and very carefully I took the vinyl record out of its delicate paper coverings.  I bent and ducked plugged the power on, and placed the needle down against its most fragile body on the now rotating turntable.

And there they were; the notes that started to fill every empty, uninhabited space of the room.

And In those moments, I was flying, so it seemed.

As the needle sailed through the waves and the surface of the record, a whispering imposition dawned onto me as if it was a matter of great importance.

“How I wish I’ve got cigarettes right now, or at least one more drink to cap the night.”

But I couldn’t move, maybe I was too lazy to go outside or maybe I was subdued by this undeniable influence of the soundtrack that accompanied me while leaning against the window sill.  I was pretty sure, that in those moments, my existence there was legitimized as a lifetime altogether.  I lingered, my outlining thoughts stayed on remembering, and then I wondered, and dreamt with eyes wide open.

“No need to hurry, everything’s going to be alright…” She then goes singing, never failing to deliver a soothing embrace to my chest every time.

Some thoughts continue to brew, about me mostly, and I felt selfish almost immediately when they insisted to stay.  I could not stand this narcissistic reflection on the window pane, and so to my shame I backpedalled.

And there was no one there really aside from this voice singing to me. I was a serpent lured out of its box, as solitude became a familiar face which encouraged for a renewal, I decided to carry on.

I saw my shadow travelling on the lunar draped concrete pavement, walking away with a small pocket flask, my blue warrens, and an extra pair of suede shoes in my luggage.

The Old Persian king slowly moves across the twilight, his reach expanding, pointing me to the pale half-moon in the sky.

My lips began to pretend blowing cigarette smoke between me and the vast openness.

The smoke travelled in the air after each vertical release, then disintegrates in the light of the lampposts as it lands.

Now in the ambiguous state, away from any lucid reality, I carry on strolling by the placid waters of my inner conversations amidst all the noise and the chaos.

A satellite gracefully placed its uncloaked body in the moonlight.  A constellation in the sky forms a broken pinwheel around the glittering islands of the late-night icebergs.

My musings took me sitting on a gutter in front of a convenience store, relishing a hot cup of seafood noodles.

I was a middle aged ship-builder, resting under a tree after the day’s work.  I was a poet, staring at the streams of the waters and the moon that gleams over me.  I was a child longing for an adventure with Huck Finn through the endless Mississippi river.

And in the sheets of my brokenness I wrote the words lent by time.  That we are merely the threads of the circumstances weaved. We are entwined by the strings of our allaying fears, shame and disappointments, which made us the quilt that blankets us against the cold.

While I choose to be the piles of inked 8’11 bond papers placed inside a plastic envelope, the hot soup warms my throat and fills my empty stomach, but my mind yearns for more.

I am famished.

Summer 1988

It was a Tuesday morning and the day was blending nothing special, just a regular workday like any other. Nothing was different, other than the fact that I was on my way to work 45 minutes earlier than my usual schedule when I reached the station to catch the train.

I guess, distance does not matter as much when you have long strides.

The carts were not as crowded as most days and the sun was still fresh. The warmth from the rays was still friendly on the skin and it felt really good. So I got time, a commodity I have regained somehow as these moments were mine to own, and I’ve got nothing else to do but to just wait for my stop at the end of the line.

I was sitting sideward to my left with my head resting on my knuckles with these aimless stares facing the window, looking at the mushroom billboards, car infested highways and the cotton filled blue skies while most of the passengers on board if not all were in this very same state of blank thoughts and half consumed consciousness, commuting in silence, it was 6:20 am.

It seemed like everybody agreed to disengage, as if there was an implied understanding among us and the only imposing sound was from the crashing like noise that the train wheels against the steel rails were making. This reminded me of the terrible typhoon back in August. I closed my eyes and I was taken back, I open them again, and it was sunny. It was funny to note on how everybody else was unmoved by this, it was like everybody in the room was placed under a spell or to be more analytical, was a result of the preconditioned tendencies that dates back to early childhood.

I almost forgot about humanity’s ability to adapt, on how we can learn to get used to some chaos. It is unspoken most of the times yes, but it is also undeniable, the truth on how we can breathe to coexist with the most unforgiving conditions.

So I shied away from all of this, and inside my compartmentalized head I open each drawer, stretching both of my arms to reach for the higher shelves, to find these comforting thoughts from the other side of my delineation.

I gave the cover cloth a good tug dropping one of the boxes on the floor. I untied the knot, blew the dust off the lid, and brushed away what’s left of the dirt with my back hand until the label was readable enough – “summer 1988”.

Years of accumulated dust swarm around, within the beam of light coming in from the window.

As I open the lid, a paper back photograph was sitting atop of the pile of handwritten letters, cutout newspaper articles, a transparent flashlight and a few banged up toys, one of them was a cowboy on a horse which was very popular at the time.

There in the photo was me and my brother on our first bikes. His was a tricycle which pedals were attached on the front wheel and was larger than the other two on the rear. It was made of plastic and metal, its body was blue and the wheels were finished in orange. Mine has four red wheels and it was made mostly of wood. It got no pedals and the seat came in blue with white stars scattered all over it, while the rest of its body was painted white.

We had gray caps on and we were wearing our sando-undershirts and we had the look that we could ride those things anywhere we wanted.

I had a conversation not so long ago. About how time changes us. On how circumstances replace everything and that childhood is like a cocoon covering that we outgrow eventually in life.

But I don’t really believe that.

The longer I looked at the photo, the more it felt familiar, the more it felt it was still me, that the child in that picture is still in me somewhere, that it wasn’t really gone.

A door down the narrow hallway swung open. My attention was then captured by the newer boxes of memories stacked neatly in this special shelf from one of its aisles. I took a closer look, not minding the short walk that I had to take; after all I have long strides. As soon as I got there, I opened one of the colored boxes, doing the same routine, tug, untie the knot and dust. But this time I was more careful.

I then held a black and white photograph of a kid wearing a fedora hat under an umbrella with his Tommy gun toy.  He reminded me of the boys from the other photograph. And from a crumpled paper note I read the words out loud on a whisper.

“Life is the transcendence of love towards another, and it leaves a permanent mark every time.”

Funny, it sounded like a line from a bumper sticker, but I guess there’s some truth to it.

It was a Tuesday morning and the day was blending nothing special, just a regular workday like any other.

And I have brought something back and I haven’t even reached my destination yet.

fedora

Letters from a Passerby

“I am going to save the world someday!” He exclaimed to himself, giving the invisible foe a determined nod as if this was a known certainty. “Maybe not soon, but someday you’ll see”. He was threading on the railway line all the way from the previous town on the other side of the mountain, following a gravel pathway staying away from the rain soaked grass on both sides. Every step makes a crunching sound as the soles of his boat shoes land on the uneven surface of the boulder fragments.

“But for now, I will have to find a dry place to take a rest’ as he stretches on both arms up in the air with a quick release of a yawn. He wears a collared striped shirt, buttoned all the way up, hand-me-down khaki shorts from his older brother and a fisherman’s hat to complete his wardrobe.

The boy readjusts his shoulder bag which contains clamped sheets of bond paper, a sketch pad, colored pencils bound with rubber band and a Tupperware of mixed cheap local chocolate candies inside and peanut butter bread.

“You’re not from around here are you?” The mailman on a bicycle appears out of nowhere, as he then held the tip of his cap with his index finger and his thumb, pacing himself with the boy. Not a lint on his navy blue coat uniform and he wears a white undershirt with a bowtie.

“You are a stowaway, aren’t you?”

“No sir, I am not” said the boy. The mailman then examined the boy with a lingering look from head to toe.

“I’m on my way home after fetching some of the dried fruits my grandmother is selling and took them to the market on the other side of the mountain” the boy explains.

“Good then, I trust you if you say so, besides, I always wander around these parts myself when I was a lot younger too. On the other thought, I heard you shouting something from back there. Forgive me, I’m not eavesdropping or anything like that, around here you can hear even the softest whisper or the stumble of a small rock from a definitive distance”.

The boy was a bit embarrassed but hides this to the stranger, his face turned red though. He then pays him a soft affirmation with a short answer “it must have echoed” and the mailman agrees.

“Um yes, I was just talking to myself out loud; it’s sort of a habit, why? Do you think that’s weird?”

“Well, the world is filled with much weirder things” the mailman replied.

“Weirder things?” the boy repeated. The boy stops walking for a while, turning his head following the man with his now narrowing eyes.

“Please allow me to explain, I mean for one, folks nowadays don’t’ read anymore, they spend most of the times watching TV than enjoying this, right here” said the mailman. They do less and complain much more each day.”

“That’s what I like about my job you know? I get to enjoy riding and passing by these places every day, and I never get tired of it. I am the link between two distant lovers through their letters, the bearer of enveloped truth, may it be good or bad, all the correspondences that people value. I would like to think of myself as the caretaker of hope in a way.”

“You do the same things every day? I don’t know kids in my neighborhood that can sustain that, we’re always up to something different each day” – the boy wondered.

“We’ll you’re still young of course and you want to do many exciting things. Your case is different; you’ll realize what I mean when the time comes”

“But that doesn’t make my case any less exciting. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I guess the secret is learning to enjoy the little things. And I see that now, every day I take joy in having the opportunity to fall in love over and over with every unfolding flower and appreciating their varying colors, and being able to hum along with the rustling of the leaves as I cruise these parts. When it becomes lonely, the buzzing bees are my companion, they are far hardworking than me, they make me want to better myself you see.”

“And when the circumstance won’t allow me to visit the hillside or the lake, like when it rains hard like moments ago, I go to my books while sipping a good cup of hot chocolate, teach my sister’s kids a thing or two, helping them with their studies or I go visit the city library two blocks away from where I live. “

“I still don’t get it, how is it weird?” asks the boy, now walking after the stranger interested. The boy does not understand what the mailman was saying. After all he’s just a kid. The words are too big for him

“How do I put this?”, then the mailman maneuvers over in front of the boy and squeezed on the brakes.

“You know how everybody feels and think that they need to do something very significant in their lives, something bigger than them, to be someone perhaps, to be known and to leave a lasting mark on the face of the earth? say like superheroes?

“Yes”, the boy finally understands.

“Well, I think it is just ironic and plain silly that most people are convinced that by doing nothing and just minding their own business and just complain and bicker all the time while holding the remote control watching the news, will do these things for them.”

“Change and Apathy are not good bedfellows you see?”

“I get it” says the boy.

“By the way, what do you mean by saving the world?” returned the mailman breaking a smile on his face, “You don’t mean aliens do you? You don’t strike me as a member of a secret government organization” as he follows this with an uncontrollable laugh. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mocking you or anything, it’s just that, you reminded me of a character in a book that I once read.”

“No it’s okay, I was rehearsing, and that was a line from the school play I am in. I should be able to memorize the lines by the end of the week or else I am screwed.” explained the boy.

“I also wrote the play by the way.”

The mailman was impressed, nods while holding the temple of his face.

“But now that you mentioned it, I kind of like the idea of me really saving the world one day or at least contributing something very significant“ the boy continued.

“And how are you suppose to do that?  I hope you don’t mind me asking.”

The boy gave it a quick thought, and gets back to the cyclist, “No I don’t mind it at all, and in fact that’s a good point. I never thought about it until now, but I’m guessing that there are a lot of things that you can do to save the world.”

“Like how, what’s in your mind my young friend?”

“Well for one, and I may be over simplifying things here, but if only I could find the right story to write about to show everyone. Stories that really matter, like yours Mr. Mailman, I’m sure that many people will be very interested in your story.”

“But it needs to be well played. Like you said, we all play an important role.”

“I don’t know about my story, but yeah, I second what you are trying to say” – the mailman feeling a bit embarrassed himself.

Then the sun behind the thick monochrome clouds appeared, revealing the rest of the steel railway line ahead, and the mist is slowly but definitely starting to vanish. The distance appears to be long, but he realizes that it is the pathway to his destination nonetheless, leading him to the clearing, as he slings his pack over his shoulders.

The kid knew that he’ll never be the same, the words that he needs to memorize now flutter inside him, his inked fingers can’t wait to reconcile with its pen and he feels freed by the encounter he just had with the mailman.

He reckoned that he is on a mission after all.

letters

In between stops while listening to the tap dancing of the skies

As seasons change, so as the people that transit through the arrival halls, filling the once emptied coat rack of the living room closet. Now draped under the welcoming embrace of the rainy weather, tailored fit for the lovers, dreamers and the poets, we ready the coffee cups and warm clothing for we had just found another reason to stay home. Clutched and folded, underneath the comforts of the thick warm blanket, enthused by this slow moving weekend morning, to be just lazy giving in to that perfect excuse to day dream infinitely.

And for a while, as the marsh of clouds provide a soothing reminder to pause for a while, through the drizzling and the stillness of the cold, I learn to rightfully consume these borrowed subtleties as I sailed the thoughts of my consciousness and what’s inside of its universe. While one attempt to be an eyewitness, slow pacing to just watch every graceful leaf and tree branch sway from side to side, indulging this sweet correspondence with the monsoon winds.

My love affair with this weather is like an unconditional monologue. It needs only the sky as its stage. It’s meant to be watched and appreciated only by staying indoors.

No sudden movements, just staring blankly through the runny window pane, while it holds a million and one raindrop marathons across the entire neighborhood, waking everybody up with soft whispers of hellos and happy tap dancing on every household-roof.

On the parallel view, I finally see children playing in the rain, running barefooted while paddling bicycle tires with twigs, keeping each rolling and balanced, up to the end of the street and back.

And in a way, I was sold. Not just because we are here now, but also for the long wait that had become a variable. The journey on how we got here I think is what made it all worth it.

If words were to be weighed, I would have been drowning by now. I mean, my mind, chest and my toes and its soles, are now filled with excerpts and anecdotes, as the wind brushes through my hair and the entirety of my face. These random thoughts had now posed as my life support that keeps me afloat in the middle of the wide open waters that will keep me buoyant for as long as I always find that gleaming hope hiding behind the thick cotton fields in the skies.

As these seemingly endless lullabies of streams lay me down across the soft continents of my sheets and cushions, it had also reacquainted me once more, with dreams about my tomorrows and with what was, beyond and what’s under, in the quiet of my own collaborative chaos made up of carefree wanderings of lose perspectives.

And what had struck me were the things of the plain and of the ordinary, of what was there all along, like a long time next door neighbor that I had never bothered to spend time to get to know.

I guess everything that is dear to us is like sand in our hands; we lose most of the grains no matter how hard we try to hold onto them. And when it is time to open them, as we have our palms facing upwards, we are reminded to be grateful and we are made humbled, for what’s left is more than empty.

With my eyes closed, listening to the rain outside, as I have my fingers drum-beating on my forehead, I am waiting in time not minding on how long, for that thousand word letter to be mailed.

I am memorizing every detail of what is being consumed with this pit-stop of a rest.

And while I am here, maybe you’re out there somewhere on a journey. I hope maybe someday, on some random weekday perhaps, you will also share the joys of stopping for a while and write me about your adventures. On how you went about and got to each, every beginning and all the messy and complicated endings.

And when you do, when you find yourself in between stops, while standing there on the train on your way home back, may the grace of these renewed days find you. As you listen to the conversations of others, may you be inspired to partake, to play a part and to be a borrower of momentary lives, only to find the rhythm, to create something that you can call your own.

Beneath the Glare of the Pulsar from a Neutron Star

“When a star explodes, that is when I am the happiest”, I heard her say. With my favourite drink on the side, next to the ash tray, sitting across from where the feeble yellow light was, with eyes crossed with cigarette smoke and the most beautiful sight on the peripheral.

She told me stories of a travelling satellite that drifts patiently across the nebulas and the distant, uncharted clusters of stars from the far stretch of the grid. Wildly and vividly taken, she took the words and carried them out from her story book of the cosmos. Page by page, I listened, never minding the flailing bodies from the intoxicated crowd around us. She told me about milkshakes and cupcakes and runaway shooting stars, cartoonish dreams and constellations. I leaned closer for the promise of clarity and to capture the whole celestial delight. It was almost morning and our wrist watches were nothing more but a bodily decor in those vacuumed moments, a time warp of its own, a moment from when a supernova turns into a neutron star approaching the collapse to become a black hole where time stands still. And her grace was the pulsar, stretching on.

Then she whispered, “When stars die, they leave a bright trail across the blackened space, and it stays on for a while for everyone to see. One of the most beautiful goodbyes I think”.

As I held her thoughts like it was mine to own. I made sure that I nodded every time to encourage her to say some more but the silence were filled with so much to spare. Her moisten painted lips were so close to my left ear, yet the gaps were too far still. Of course this is just all a dream, I thought.

They say that the universe is infinitely expanding, that the space between each matter widens, scientists also concluded that there is not enough dark matter to hold everything together, but humanity and philosophy had termed it love that was lacking, that we laymen understand more easily. It is the very gravity of life that pulls every molecule, and all of the atmospheric dusts that make up the blue skies.

“It expands, and we can’t quite catch up. Maybe we’re not meant to anyway”, she figured.

We stood on the tip of the cliff near the banks of the shore as we held our heads up toward the planetarium over our scalps. The pale moon gleams as we also watched the foams of the waters crash gently on the soft bosom of the earth, as they remind us also of what we had there beneath our feet.

We were happy to have awakened before the sun rose. Before it had stretched its limbs out of the horizons, before the unfolding of the leaves from slumber.  We have exhaled the air, of what our lungs could give and inhaled sharing the same air between us. Despite of the unspoken reassuring words of poetry and romance and all the formulas of science that we once have written on the blackboards with coloured chalk.  We were there at that right moment, gazing through the pellets of what appeared to be a gathering of faraway candle lights, meeting together for that blue dot from a distant galaxy we call home.

These days are to be lingered in my mind.  A dream of a journey towards one’s arrival to consciousness, the immense feeling from within the rib-cages with care and compassion, its axis.

The magnetic field of life transcending to the blotting of the ink on paper. The literature of childlike musings, of what’s carefree or just plain silly. Through the slow waltzing dance of the cosmic flares in the night sky enjoyed through a bedtime telescope. For just a fraction, a dose if you will, like a nightcap while exchanging proses and bubble gum theories in those half-asleep conversations. For an aurora of glistened dreams on our night-clothes.

Dark Blue

In the Fullness of Empty

I am a bent study lamp on the floor with legs folded and crossed in the presence of the terraces of keys before me, while my arms are behind my back serving as main poles of my aching body, leaning for support against them.

And from a lingering transcendence within my shell, I marvelled staring blankly through the stained metal grills between me and the sky that blended with the bright hues and the nicest alibies I tucked behind the sunglasses.

From a far I see a color arc over the levelling concrete columns but there was no one there to wave at. I took a long drag, it was almost a summer kiss, from the cigarette that was dying so quickly from an ashtray beside me, and as the smoke passes through my throat and down to my lungs, so as the words that fill my mind. I then closed my eyes, surrendering to the chemical reaction funnelling through the compartments of my musings, I then pulled the knob of my wristwatch to make time stand still for a while. It was only during these silent moments that I was reminded that for one to actually dream, one has to rest.

I was bribing each ticking hand to take no pace, and hope that with this morning prose it would accept my invitation to take a short nap.

As it heeds my request with enthusiasm, also comes a lesson of reality. That it can only make it appear slower, through the glances from one’s memories, but nothing more than that. I then responded with courtesy and tact, as a grateful response I said, that I will take whatever it would lend me. Like the silence that peace gave me when I was asking for answers, or like when the pages were found empty only to mean patience, until the words dawned when they are already ripe for the picking.

And so I went to the bed and laid down for a while, facing the open windows to my left.

I curled my legs up placing both of them closer to my chest while the morning warmth cloaked the rest of my body with beautiful promises of respite.

I watched the different shapes of ether line up for the parade, and the drift of specs passing through my fingers, from the feeble cloth that swayed in portrayal of the curtains. In a way it is like a musical fountain show with coloured lights in slow motion, they complimented the existence of each other and the bright blue skies where they whirled.

It then took me to a not so distant memory, when we were on our way to the high terrains, when the altitude starts messing with our ears as we take on each ascend. It was a reminder that we are in a different place now, as it also allowed our imposition, to relish the grandeur of life.

Then her face was magnified and made clearer by the distance. It made no sense, I couldn’t see her but I do in a way. A warm unreciprocated embrace to my pillow until it hurt so badly, with the wind chimes played like a pop song in a loop.

I guess, missing someone is like looking at the stars. They are all there, but they are also light years away. You then wonder, and you check your pockets hoping that you’d have enough change to spare, for all the wishes that you would be making, whispering to the empty spaces between the earth from where you stand on, and the layers and layers of widened openness made of dusts and faith above your head, wishing that it is more than just a bedtime story with a happy ending.

You would then yearn for reality and your dreams to be one and the same, as you have found a place within you, a cabin where you can rest easily with your thoughts and all your worries and high hopes, that the margin of probability is not that thin after all. That it is okay to hope and long and ask, putting your consciousness at bay, placing your palms upward facing the sky.

While lying there, I borrowed some of the sun’s attention, and I was resting finally. At first I had a little trouble in convincing the words to do its part, thinking to myself that I got nothing if they won’t participate.

But the wise sun understood what I was trying to enunciate. Even without words, just sheer nothingness it heard me, the voice from my lungs that was struggling to come out. And I was put in awe when it finally did, asking myself how can that be? And the answer to that, until now I do not know.

I woke up a few hours after and my mind held nothing. It was then I knew that it is in our empty state that we can really dispense. We are the vessel not the water that fills it. And like a fern growing out of a typewriter shell, I was enriched.

And I never felt more fluid.

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Gliding over the Tides

From the soften beach floor bed, cradles a local dog resting peacefully in the early morning sun. He has his snout facing seaward, out to catch the cool combing embrace of the morning breeze through his sandy copper fur. And even though his paws had already aged, the pads are soft still. He had lived each breaking day in this tranquil state all his life. And for a moment there, I envied the mutt, for I forget on how long far ago I had sleep like that.

The sun was just about at the right ascend when the wind driven current was gesturing its invitation to come along into the sea. The air is oozing with excitement as both locals and tourists march unto the stretch, with their hover boards pressed between their sides and their arms, as they have their gaze fixed outward to the vast openings of the ocean.

The agenda was to stop, to watch the crashing of the waves, and while the waters breathe briskly through each white northern collapse, against our feet, the ocean’s pulse finds its way to the homey banks of the shore, where the solace of wisdom sits as it waits for their safe return.

We then lingered all our inhibitions, on this rejuvenating view before us. The mutt was right to stay, and we followed him through in silence sitting in the shaded parts of the beach.

And as the browned and baked bodies are about to go under against the unrelenting white waters of the north, they hold their breaths before each plunge, they paddle out to make their acquaintance with the ocean’s entirety, as they entwine their bodies with each exhaling current until they are finally welcomed to share its world.

Graceful on their gliders, the sun induced melanin lingers in their now crisp and darken skin, their hair is bleached by salt, preserving their youth in a timeless compartmentalized memory they hope to keep.

As their fingers run through the tunnelling waters, they wait patiently for that perfect one, a marriage of some sort, like a romantic getaway maybe, and when they finally do, they take off on that wave, over the pilgrimage of the herd, without any sails they move beautifully through the current, drifting in clouds, they sail in their dreams wide awake.

Now the waves are rushing in from the entire stretch, and in their varying motions they charge just to disintegrate upon each collapse. And from this unchoreographed parade one realizes the truth that is being carried in each crashing; that there are no plans beyond the uncontrollable and the unseen.

That we just paddle out to meet whatever kind of waves we are there to catch. We plunge our way through head on, to meet with each swollen-embossed tide that we brave to shake hands with, and with humility we try to hold a steady pace for as long as we could, while it last, until the strong waves decide to wipe us out on our sides.

And from a faraway voice that echoed as a celebration of the waves, its familiar roars of tunes made it sounded so near. A version of its hums or it must be a prayer for the celestial, we hear the words form, until they are finally made and forged.

And soon, answers will be then dispensed; neither for the eyes to read nor for our ears to hear. And in its modesty and simplicity we hope to take refuge, in its utter silence through our rib cages and arteries.

IMGP0079Lonely stride, but not.