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The veiled path

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At the end of the journey, the first step home is sideways: the way to the desert above and to the life we used to have beyond that desert passes through the island in the clouds. My way goes through my Relto. My high place. My refuge and stepping stone. The divergence is personal and as fleeting as all that divides me from the companions I journeyed with (and while I can recite my name, and my family’s names, and my tax code and that’s all comfortably me, did we not reach the same intuition in the same heartbeat, when we covered the vents and when we opened that monumental dead safe? Did we not follow the same call and listen to the same stories tucked in the corners of the same hall under the Earth?) When a cloud is blown over the scarce firs that dot my island, I can feel them all, each friend a breath away – walking, sitting to face the horizon, throwing pebbles down the cliff only to wonder about the land below. I trace their steps. I follow, I lead, I lose myself in the crowd of an empty island.

Our paths rejoin in the desert, or so we are told. No more fragments. The sky is brighter than I think I remember, the haze lifting to reveal hills on the horizon I do not remember on my way in. And sure, my eyes have changed – they keep worlds inside them. But: what else did?

I trace the journey’s spiral on my hand’s skin but hesitate to join its ends.