I will try again to describe it.

It soaks you straight through.

When I reached for the handle I slid back my hand. There is something holy

about living in a museum.

I wrote letters here years ago by the clock and the Arabian plates I loved so much.

My grandfather is whistling.

If he could answer I would ask if he remembered a time when the room was filled with family and noise?

Ella leaves the radio on for us. Outside, the rain on the roses. Orange is

my favorite, unshelling itself to the floor.

In Switzerland it is like this: through the stillness, you must cut through. Infinite streets, an eternal careen.

I am sitting across from the masks my grandfather collected when he

was young. A photo of my father, a glass bottle of coke. Mexico.

Peter said this to me: my last leftist strain. He was winking and tall, still handsome, asking my permission to forgive his age

One day will I too abandon my ambitions for traditions? –in Switzerland it is

like this: you must cut through the silence.

In Peter’s house: the stark mark of loneliness, a well kept garden and many photographs. He did not get many figs this year.

Everywhere there are birds, there is rain. This is

what I remember: open fields of wheat–

“I could never live here,” my mother whispers to me, clutching my arm along

the steep cobblestone

She talks about small cars and predictability: slowly, my father grows

into the slope of my grandfather’s back. Why is it so hard, to look

at photo albums, or the rain,

and to keep from crying? Switzerland is

like this: it soaks you straight through.


Against the roses many summers ago I wrote letters; lately, I’ve started to drift from myself that way

I don’t need to hear myself speak anymore, that vain consolation

of the sound of my voice: I have a voice, can you hear it? –a reassurance, just

to hear myself speak

To assert myself, against the unfurling, floating hills of wheat. The gnarled

cherry trees trailing across the horizon.

Shifting in the wind: low church bells, lavender. No one is here.

I run through the wooden villages. Off each window hangs flowers.


things I will say when I get back: I wouldn’t say they are friendly. They are very polite.


I’m going to make a movie that plays out every one of my fantasies.

They all start the same,

Variations on a theme. Maybe it’s like this, too: it all starts like this, variations

on a theme. I daydream about Lee, “Lee, baby! Wish

you were here…send me some nudies from Nepal

Enjoy your last stretch at Stanford, the real world is just the same, I promise you,” in my head I roll over grains of wheat

to the camera, point at the lush green folding itself in and over me, rippling out

in an endless sea, “My virtual letter, x’s and o’s” and it fading--

but of course I send her no such thing; and how would I explain it, the dust roads leading up, roads to the city down in tempered cobblestone?

David says since coming from Japan he has yet to make one Swiss friend. Of course I say nothing. It has been two years. His hair is curly.


We cut the cake, my grandfather and I. His hands tremble and my father’s eyes are blue. These are the realities,

The cake, the tea, the roses. It rains but we sit outside in shawls, the mountains acquire a lovely mystery,

Half veiled coquettes

in thin clouds, the cold

never bothered me

You have never seen a place so beautiful, so proud and so still. I want to ask Peter about loneliness

He talks about the color green; apparently, they are quite the same. In Meixco


my father’s camera was stolen- or no,

That was Peru, weiss du, I’ve always loved to travel, to get away–but all he had was music, American rock and roll

and he knew he would marry my mother to the tune, in that still photograph–but don’t you love the mountains?–I never crossed the room,

My hand stuck on the handle, something holy in the silence, and my father replied

“I could never live here,” and fortunately, grandfather is whistling, his eyes are soaked blue.