There’s no word for it so far, the word for what it means to be in love with you in our sinking world, what it means to hike through new snow, to hear beneath the glass of creek ice the flow of winter percolating its way through the ravine not quite soundlessly toward lower ground to join the wild roar of the American River.
The word that means we’ve loved through the avalanches of our time, loved while the wars raged, paid for with our taxes, loved while our loved ones voted for hatred, for I want the false past I want what’s coming to me, protected as they’ve been by their skin white as this very snow draped on hemlocks in the ravine’s wavering light.
The word that means we’re not alone, we share that same nature wonder, for the flicker tapping on a far-off tree, the delicate calligraphy of a mouse’s prints along our path, as if Tu Fu has been here too, who knew, even then, even in the Tang Dynasty, beauty leaves behind its faint notations.
The word that means we will go on, we will follow an earlier trekker’s snowshoe trail, slog on bundled to keep the chill from overtaking us, descend again steeply, then climb again switchbacks above the creek away from its cold murmurings, to our car and the long drive back to the war zone of now. Armed with our little courage,
we must drive straight to the front, strap on flak jackets and begin the slow search for survivors, slow search for the words that might revive them. Even now we’re feverish to make contact, to know what to listen for, to learn to hear those muffled cries from deep in the rubble. If we knew the words we might save
those most weakened, most in danger of giving up. If we knew the words we might keep the world, its rivers, its ice, its bitterroot, its winter wrens, its hemlocks, its moonlight, its children, its Shakespeare, its Szymborska, its rosehips, its green and orange lichens, its Dylan, its kora players, its humming birds, you, me, and our Muslim neighbor, Maya, alive.