..First Glyph

March 11
8:45 a.m.

My confidence returns! Stephanie from British Columbia is partly responsible. Meeting her and desiring her and then abandoning my hopes for her put emotional distance between me and that bus attack. Drafting that scene from The Sandra Texts last night helped, too. I felt myself reconnecting as I worked that scene, stabilizing, finding again my balance.

Soon I will gather descriptions. I sit already at the edge of a palm grove in which I will this morning work. I rest even now on a dead coconut palm, on its dun gray trunk. The blue sea is before me, and the bright morning beach. My confidence is back! I feel sure-footed again, more stable, ready. I was wise not to work yesterday. Tomorrow I daytrip from Mazatlán. Maybe one, maybe two daytrips from Mazatlán I will make.

I reviewed my notes on the passage from Mazatlán to Guadalajara. A complete loss, they are. Nothing in them. Nothing. Self-conscious mediocrity. Today I will seek again truth. Already the ocean sounds to me like a thousand applauding hands. This is good. And a ladybug alights on this palm trunk--a sweet bead of jam. And the breeze smells to me of blue-green. And a bird call is a question mark. And the coconuts hanging above me are tight ripe testicles. I chuckle for the oily milk within them.

I expect to digress soon into As You Like It. Uncanny how its themes relate to this journey! I have Antony and Cleopatra and Othello still to read. With the last phase of the trip dawning, I will read Othello next. I'm anxious to see that American film production of the play, to see that French actress in it I adore. I will rent the movie once settled in Albuquerque.

5 p.m.

The beach again. Late afternoon now and I've already wiled away an hour here. I will stay until comes that cool breeze of the ocean meeting twilight. Once I've felt that breeze I will return to my lodgings.

A flat-bellied American college girl just re-introduced to me the mystery. Spring Break, I guess. She passed in her red bikini and I saw in her the secret, the enigma. She passed and I realized how I had stopped looking for it, this mystery, stopped seeing it, how it has gone unnoticed by me for a couple of days. But the flat-bellied American college girl passed and I saw in her Gatsby. There was Schubert in her and a Singer Sargent portrait. That sparkle, that life, that smoldering feminine swagger. And I thought of the felid eyes of a Guadalajara shop girl. And I thought of the painful elegance in a Tapatia's gait. And I thought of the gloaming and saffron of a bare Latin midriff. And then I descried the mystery in all of these. In all of them. And I realize now, now even as I scribble these words, that the greats do not monopolize the mystery. The mystery, instead, is everywhere. They just illuminate it. Or they express it more clearly, maybe. They teach us even to recognize it, I think. But it is not only in their works. It is everywhere. So obvious to me suddenly! In this ant crawling over these sand grains. In that spoondrift off the waves. Why have I not articulated this before? So obvious. The works of the greats are full of the mystery the way a woman's saunter is full of the mystery. But that woman is full of it, too. As am I! And is that the key? Is it that simple? Did they find simply the mystery within themselves as much as in everything else? Did they maybe connect that mystery within themselves to the mystery of everything else?


Even as it sets the sun still warms. I lean against a concrete wall just feet from where yesterday on a beach chair I observed Stephanie from British Columbia. I felt like coming to this beach this afternoon. I wanted to make this entry here on this beach this afternoon. Craggy mountaintops lie offshore. Three islets, they form. I watch them unmove. They begin now to break up the sun's lengthening beams.

I just watched a man snap a photograph of his wife as she stood before the sunset. Then she of him. They took up their poses some time after I finished scribbling the words above. Already they have gone. But the sunset is not yet ended, you know. The sky still plays about like a spectroscope. A heavy blue behind me. An ocean blue above. A pearlescent blue where the sun last gleamed. A fusion of fire there, purple smoke, and gilt. But the couple has gone. And the three islets offshore soften into black shapeless slumbers. And the mercury sea reflects the sky. A pelican flaps its silhouette through. A fish plashes. Two bare- chested men heave a bare-masted sailboat onto the beach. But the couple has gone. Is life so reducible? To a photograph? To a hurried photograph? Indivisible, I think instead, unbroken, continuous. An endless stream of impression, meaning. A quarter moon like foxed paper. That heavy blue creeping westward. Three sandpipers in the wavelets. That lapping sound of the mini-breakers. But the couple has gone.


John Dishwasher

The Gods of Our Fathers