Sansaku: A Break in the Clouds
My father died on this day, thirty-nine years ago, and the year before I’d been with him in Prescott, but about to leave for Boulder. I told him I’d be back in April or May, but I took a detour that led to Durango. You know what they say about plans.
When I mentioned this to Chyako, she said, “Your life would be so different if you hadn’t found your father. He was your break in the clouds.” I had to agree. I needed him to know myself.
Chyako also said, “When you decided to marry me, that was also a break in the clouds.” I had to agree. I needed her to know myself.
Before I left Prescott, forty years ago, I asked about his philosophy of fatherhood. He took his time and gave it thought. It’s something I always appreciated about him. For as badly as he’d behaved, he could be trusted to give an honest answer.
He boiled it down. “I had little interest or patience with babies, but looked forward to the day we could talk. To that end,” he said, “I wanted to steep you all in a rich cultural broth. I hoped to nurture your intellectual curiosity and generosity of spirit.”
“In the end,” he said, “it’s all about love and learning.” I had to agree. We needed each other to know ourselves.
Not since coming to the canyon had the sky clouded over, and being deep in a narrow canyon wasn’t the best of feelings. Dow was jarred out of his memory-dream loops and paid close attention to the disturbing change in the weather.
His imagination shifted from pains in the past to fears in the immediate future. He was drawn out of himself and into the darkness outside.
As night fell, the storm came on harder and sand-blasted Dow and the canyon. It might have polished stone, but skin was something else. He climbed into his sleeping-bag, zipped it up tight, and listened to the fury. It sang him to sleep and he dreamed about a break in the clouds.
When he woke, something had shifted. Instead of a cloud-burst and flash-flood, a soft rain was falling and the world felt fresh and renewed. His senses came alive and the hum was louder than ever.
The scent of juniper and sage brought forgotten memories to life, and he remembered being a child. He stopped thinking and that’s when everything changed. He decided to go exploring.
Just then, a hummingbird came out of nowhere and light as a feather, landed on his shoulder. He could see the color without turning his head, and noticed his eyes worked better. When the little bird took flight, it zoomed in and out of focus.
There’s a motif in fairy tales about the feminine falling asleep and waiting for the masculine kiss to wake her. It goes both ways.
The next time Em returned to the pool and quietly surfaced on the other side, he was gone. She looked around and slowly emerged from the water. The light was low and the glow turned her skin gold. That’s when she saw him.
He was looking at her, and once again their eyes met. This time he wasn’t caught in a dream world and this time his eyes were sharp. He knew exactly who she was.
Em smiled. They were both bare naked. She slowly turned her back and dove. The sun disappeared along with the girl. He knew where the sun had gone, but not the girl. This was a break in the clouds.