Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Desolation, continued

The days that followed our excursion to the death camp were very dark. The moon was completely hidden in the sky and as I waited until 10:30 when I could put the kids to bed, I felt like I was floating in the middle of a vast ocean. I was sitting alone down near the closed up restaurant. A siren screamed into the night from somewhere, I still don't know where, and the cats were howling so loudly I thought surely it must be one of the students trying to scare me. Occasionally someone would appear out of the night, the pale patch of their face illuminated by a headlamp, but no body spoke to me. It was a relief to finish my work and climb back to the camp, where the kids were loud and running around. I could feel the life start to drain back into the night. At 10:30 I put them to sleep, unlocked the swinging bridge and climbed high into the mountains.

I fell asleep but did not wake up the next day for class. Instead I slept the whole day. I did not leave the house, which is a dark cave built into the mountain, in fact I did not even put my head out the window for a breath of fresh air. I dreamed I was standing on the mountainside watching a meteor erupt in the sky, and a ball of fire consume the entire world. I woke up with a desperate need to walk down to the camp and be around the students, sit at the restaurant and drink a cup of coffee. But it was too late, it was 8:30 in the evening when I woke up. The house was dark cold, my eyes did not adjust well, and there were tarantulas crouching in the shadows.

I had dinner with David and Tino and Lorenzo and Pangal and their mother, Gordita. But I could not shake the feeling of isolation that had curled around me in my sleep. Even the tarantulas did not stir me, because I felt like I was not really even there. I sank back into sleep at midnight, covering my face so the spiders would not camp out above my mouth as they tend to do, attracted to the warmth. Again my mind shatters into splinters and each piece crawled off and had a wild dream. The mosaic of those wild dreams was like a twice-exposed reel of film spinning through my sleeping.

When I woke up the next morning it was sunny, and I ran down the mountain soaking in the light and the air, desperate for a day with less weight.

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