I inherited from my ancestors
a burning desire to learn
from all places.
My father read James Joyce
and allowed a television in the house
so we could watch tennis
and movies of cowboys and detectives.
One night in the distant future,
in the course of my ongoing investigations,
I walked to the corner of Anza and 48th
and encountered the Other,
the city which was not me, not us,
not anything I had ever encountered.
I saw the sigil of its otherness
and transferred it
from the cold stone where it rested
to the warmth of my flesh.
Words and letters without meaning
and yet their beauty was easy to read.
My father had taught me well.
Maybe things he didn't know himself.
In that same future, I constantly read and wrote.
I was single with no kids.
With every day that passed
I became more like my parents.
One afternoon in Sutro park
I sat next to an old man
who couldn’t have been more genial or incomprehensible.
We looked at the stars and the clouds together.
"There is only one path and it has already been chosen," he said.
He told me what to look for in the sky
but I couldn't see it,
I couldn't follow his deductions,
I couldn't understand his implications,
I couldn't see our fate written in the dark.
The light was easy to spot and wish upon,
but I found no reason to do so.
In the past, I had struggled with a novel.
As I wrote, my heart had moved like a winged silver bird,
shining with the magic of pure golden light.
That novel taught me
that the end and the beginning are the same,
and yet there are many novels
and many starts
all impossible to separate.
Looking back at this past,
I came to understand
I had moved through this life without thought,
without any overt or implied intent.
Fate was not for me to understand,
not for me to know.
I learned to accept this past,
I learned to accept that future.
After the future was over
I prepared for the voyage.
I brought the book.
I removed the past like an old jacket.
I was ready to learn some more.