Letter from the Foothills

by D. Nurkse

for H.M.

She writes: time is passing very fast here.

You go to the pet store, buy a kitten, take it home, clean its suppurating eyes with a Q-tip – don’t tremble! It starts purring, very loudly, then it’s a ball of dust.

And the waterfalls! The majestic waterfalls! Each of them seems to be tumbling so fast.

Then again they could be motionless.

The mountains, she writes, the impossibly distant mountains. They flicker like the Ohio Blue Tip matches I used to strike as a kid. I marveled how my breath shaped them. Their uncanny intimacy was scary. Did it stake a claim on me? That forbidden pang high in my nostrils. The way the light buckled and turned inward just above the tip of the flame.

The clouds pass, some faster than others. The fastest has a hole in it.

Once this was a city, she confides, now not even a ruin.

My book tells me it was always like this. Each of us hung in the cold air like the peal of a bell, then faded. None of us could believe it.