I love a broad margin to my life

page 26


I'm standing on top of a hill;
I can see everywhichway--
the long way that I came, and the few
places I have yet to go. Treat
my whole life as formally a day.
I used to be able, in hours, to relive,
to refeel my life from its baby beginnings
all the way to the present. 3 times
I slipped into lives before this one.
I have been a man in China, and a woman
in China, and a woman in the Wild West.
(My college roommate called; she'd met
Earll and me in Atlantis, but I don't
remember that.) I've been married
to Earll for 3 lifetimes, counting
this one. From time to time, we lose each other,
but can't divorce until we get it right.
Love, that is. Get love right. Get
marriage right. Earll won't believe
in reincarnation, and makes fun of it.
The Dalai Lama in How to Expand Love
says to "try possibility that past
and future rebirth over a continuum
of lives may take place." We have forever.
Find me, love me, again.
I find you, I love you, again.
I've tried but could not see
my next life. All was immense black
space, no stars. After a while,
no more trying to progress, I returned--
was returned--to an ordinary scene that happened
yesterday, and every sunny day: Earll and I
are having a glass of wine with supper--bruschetta
from our own tomatoes and basil--under the trellis
of bougainvillea, periwinkly clematis,
and roses. Shadows and sunlight are moving at Indian
summer's pace. The Big Fire burned
the grove of Monterey pines. We planted
purple rain birches, Australian tea
trees, dogwood, the elm, locust, catalpa,
3 redwoods from seed, 4 pepper
willows, and 7 kinds of fruit trees.
The katsura and the yucca are volunteers.
That Texas privet and the bamboo, survivors. Here,
I feel as I felt in Hawai'i, as I felt in Eden.
A joy in place. Adam and Eve were never
thrown out; they grew old in the garden.
They returned after travels. So, I,
like the 14th Dalai Lama, have arrived
at my last incarnation? I don't feel a good
enough person to be allowed off the wheel.
I am guilty for leaving my mother. For leaving
many mothers--nations, my race, the ghetto.
For enjoying unconsciousness and dreams, wanting
sleep like thirst for water. I left MaMa
for Berkeley, the 17 years in Hawai'i.
Couldn't come home winter and spring breaks,
nor summers. She asked, "How can I bear
your leaving?" No, I'm not translating right.
"Can I seh doc your leaving?" Seh doc
tells the pain of losing something valuable.
How can she afford my leaving?
Seh doc sounds like can write.
Sounds almost like my father's name.
Father who left her behind in China for 15
years. I too left her.
"Lucky," she bade and blessed, in English. "Lucky."
She and Father stood at the gate, left for Viet Nam.
Her eyes were large and all-holding.
From the demimonde, Colette wrote, lying
to her mother, All's well, I'm happy.
Our only son did not leave us;
we left him in Hawai'i.
Generations. Karma. Ah Goong
walked my mother to the end of Tail End
Village. Whenever she looked back, he was still
standing there weeping and looking after her.

LEAVING HOME


I'll watch over Wittman Ah Sing
go through the leaving of his wife. A practicing artist
herself, Taña understands the wanter
of freedom. Let him go. If they stay put,
husband and wife lose each other anyway,
artist and artist dreaming up separate
existences. Go on roads through country you define
as you go. Wend through taboo mazes.
"But, Wittman," says Taña, "til death us do part."
(Say those words, and you vow once again.)
"No, Taña, not death, only away awhile."
Married so long, every word and moment is
thick with strata and fathoms and echoes.
35 years ago, they climbed
the Filbert Steps, walked in and out
of garden gates, pretended this house
and that house were home. They'd wed atop
Coit Tower. Look! Where it comes again.
Our wedding tower lifts out of the fog
and the forest edge of the City. "I need
to get to China, and I have to go
without helpmeet. I've been married to you
so long, my world is you. You
see a thing. I see it. The friends you
like, I like. The friends you can't
stand, I can't stand. My
perception is wedded to you perception.
You have artist's eyes. I'd wind up
seeing the China you see. I want
to see for myself my own China."
Taña says, "So you don't want to be
with me, and we become old, old
lovers and old artists together. You,
my old lover. I love you, old lover."
Wittman feels a rush that is Taña's benevolence
for him suffuse him. He has to try harder
to leave her. "I love you, Taña. Thank you,
my wife, for our lifetime,
and our past lifetimes. We don't
have to get divorce papers. We quit
being householders is all. The chi
connecting us will stretch infinitely."
On such agreement, the long-married can part.
His birthday morning continues fair. The Bay
is busy with sailboats, and the ocean outside
the Garden Gate calmly opens forever.
All seems well, as though Water Margin
protected us. I have a soul, and it expands large...

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