Right beneath where I’m sitting, there’s soil that hasn’t tasted rain in 150 years. I’ve seen bodies down there, dessicated corpses, none of them human. To me, every permanent structure is an occasion for melancholy. A home built to last represents a life sentence for some plot of land — perhaps that’s why I take such delight in ruins. Once when I was in my teens, for several hours I was convinced that everyone but me had already gone to heaven, leaving behind only some sort of solid hologram. I was excited: I pictured myself being like the Wandering Jew of legend, all alone with the earth. Anyone who wants to go to heaven, I still maintain, doesn’t deserve it.
I didn’t plan it this way, but it so happens that my writing chair occupies the only spot in the house with a view out in all four directions. A moment ago I watched a titmouse land on a branch of a small mulberry on the other side of the window closest to me. He peered intently in my direction then fluttered right in front of the window for a second before flying off. He was of course investigating his own reflection; I was merely part of the background. Some people see animals and want to touch them, want to have them for pets. My hope is always that they will ignore me. I gaze out through the storm door at sun on an icy snowpack, dark trees rooted in a ground that hurts the eyes.