Howard W. Robertson





Facts expand in our minds when not opposed by
knowledge; when we or actually I in this instance
fly down to Las Vegas at Christmastime to see our
older brother Gordon who is divorcing his first wife
Mabel and immediately remarrying young blonde
Sylvia with plans to relocate back East as soon as
convenient, leaving poor little Molly his preschool
daughter behind with mommy, not even trying to
get custody nor to stay close by enough for frequent
visitations so that it becomes difficult for us or me
really to stick to our original resolution not to seem
judgmental nor to meddle in our senior sibling’s
affairs so to speak; when we or in particular I feel
no great interest in these common contemporary
family dysfunctions that might indeed provide such
poignant material for an empathetically ironic novel
by Anne Tyler or Jane Smiley or Jonathan Franzen
say, nor in the bigger-brighter-than-ever lights of
Las Vegas Boulevard, the provocative aesthetic
tawdriness, the colorful moral squalor that could
offer such exploitable settings for sardonic scenes
by Joan Didion perhaps or even Francine Prose or
Haruki Murakami, driving instead in the rented
Ford Taurus out into the desert hills that overlook
Boulder Basin, into the sandstone and basalt, the
cacti and creosote, the cholla and yucca, the varied
lizards and snakes, the jackrabbits and vultures and
such; when what most intensely intrigues us or just
me alone of all our experiences during the holiday
trip to glamorous greater Las Vegas is meeting the
raven who introduces himself with three insistent
cries at the mouth of the pedestrian tunnel through
the mountain ridge on the trail to Black Canyon and
then drops his half-eaten perch or some similar fish
at our feet out there by the dam-produced reservoir,
the sight of the ripples of which plus the remains of
the fish release the words from Roethke to echo in
our ears about the spreading silence of murky water
above the sunken cottonwoods and from Levertov
about our breathing time as fishes do water while
the dark divinity swoops overhead; and when the
mythic bird introduces his lifelong wife after we or
the differing personae of only me in fact return the
next day to the same solitary spot where he and I
seem to communicate about stone-tipped spears of
ten thousand years ago, about how there is just this
present moment that includes what remains of the
past and whatever already exists of the future so
that in the most obvious way this instant differs
from every other but in the least obvious wise is
always the same forever, and about how everything
is nevertheless mysteriously all right because of the
unknowable unity underlying all these congeries of
individual entities as we factually come and go.


Copyright © 2004 Howard W. Robertson.  All Rights Reserved.


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