In the mailbox, under its film of sticky
green and yellow pollen, a letter arrives
bearing a postmark: Stettener Str. 7,
Oberstotzingen, Germany. It is a letter
that has found its way after almost decades
of silence and not-knowing, from the Buddha’s
former student 30 years ago— Here is the card
with the same angled handwriting she remembers
from exams he wrote on Kafka and Kant, Chekov,
Rilke; and here is a photo of him now, surgeon,
married, four kids. What joy to hear from you,
he writes— How I have thought of who I am and what
I try to be, of where I am at home; and how that’s made
of friends and colleagues, acquaintances, relations
—circles from which I draw my hope and strength.

And yes, the Buddha agrees: more’s the wonder
one can go years without knowing what has happened
to someone, then close the gap. Once she knew him
as a young man: adrift in a country not his own,
learning a tongue made of sounds he did not fully grasp.
One moment ago there was only a suitcase of years
filled with change after change. Now, there is
a return address, a phone number; stories
of lives lived with and among others.

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