He was standing alone in the dark,
surrounded by trees and their sounds.
He no longer felt the old compulsion
to get in a car and drive somewhere.
He was right where he would have gone
anyway — right here, with the trees.
He liked how they slowly seemed to move
closer to him in the cool dark, and he thought
about the ancient people in Namibia who travel
in small groups from place to place in the desert.
They hardly need any clothes, but they know
more about what really matters than anybody
in robes or suits, and so they are very humble.
Here he stood in the dark, and he imagined now
the Namibians also could hear the same sounds,
and that made him smile, because suddenly
he understood he had never been alone.
Still, there was something enormous behind the fire
where the ancient people were camping at night,
something behind their chants, behind the petrified
trees that have stood for 900 years in that desert.
It was not the night — it could swallow the night,
and the day too, but it held back, because it wanted
to see how things would be if it did not interfere.
It never interferes, because everything is just
as it should be, not alone in the dark at all,
not going anywhere, just pulsing in place
to the sounds the old trees make.
(Photo by Mark Dumbleton)