When I think of you, alone and together meld like molten gold. I write to you on a golden morning just beyond the summer solstice, this late June light is an immersion into liquid gold, the world around me adorned with the gloss of gold. Summer’s gold and the transformative capacity of heat are yours—luminosity, languid flow—embodied qualities of sun.
My memory reflects like a prism turning in inmost light. This season, four summers ago, we were cloistered together in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Zazen began at 5:30am. Bare feet on cool stone tiles in Roshi Joan Halifax’s private home, opened to us for poetry practice. We traveled from New York City to the New Mexican desert in the peak of summer’s heat on a lunar pilgrimage.
You’d arrived a few days before me, and at the airport in Albuquerque, spontaneously rented a white Mustang convertible. A lucent bolt of speed akin to the immediacy of Zen—no hesitation between eye and sight. We’d come to study The Ink Dark Moon, the translated love poems of Izumi Shikibu and Ono no Komachi.
Tanka is poetry written with and through the body’s desires—the intimacy of hand pressed to page. Centuries before us, in the ancient court of Japan, these poets yearned, as we did and do, for depth, sensuality, insight, and connection. Both of us seeking partnership and creative fulfillment in the glittering city. Both of us seeking deep and wide the layers of meaning and resonance that illuminate words.
Gnosis is as wild as eros, says Lisa Jarnot. Knowledge and passion inextricable, all one. Twinning of sun and moon, our lives of writing, contemplation, and love intertwining, all one. Each night we chanted in Upaya’s Wayring Temple, Reality is boundless, I vow to perceive it.
Later, you’d write about the powerful night winds across the desert. The breath of night, whisper of coming-into-being. As we slept in the glow of waxing gibbous, we did not yet know that within two years’ time we’d both marry, we’d both leave New York City to make new homes and careers in Portland in Boulder. We did not yet know that in four years’ time you’d carry a son.
In the light of desert morning, we watched a covey of quail drink from a small pool. The parent birds protected the chicks as they drank, as each chick filled its tiny bill. Elegant, unhurried, tilting their throats skyward to take in the night-cooled water. The world shimmering before our eyes. Linger here, your way of being beckoned me. Alone, together in quiet wonder of sun.
Your way of seeing is that of long exposure, sight that senses and receives every detail of the landscape, artwork, and person before you. What a gift to look at the world in this way, what a gift to be seen by your eyes in long friendship. One of the many gifts you’ll give to your son, soon to be born at summer’s zenith, in the fertile ink of July’s new moon, is that of golden sight.