He’s heard stories of amber, of winter storms that deposit yellow knurls and knuckles the length of the long beach that runs north to Palanga, of roads jammed even in winter on a fair Sunday with beachcombers eager for treasure. He’s not found that road yet, shy or distracted or put off by some vague sense that the old powers should be cautiously approached. He’s read that the Christians found this land hard to enter, the people stubborn, claiming to be happy with the gods they knew. That’s been centuries. Still the borders mean something. Still the news is bloody and not so far away. The traveler read in the U.S. news that there’s new word form Vilnius: if the Russians come, stay calm. Show up for work. Hug your children. The traveler has noticed nothing scary, but he knows he’s wearing a snug cocoon of ignorance. Anyway another source insisted that the message was mostly about storms, fire, earthquakes, the Russians only one of many perils that need forethought but not fear. He doesn’t know whether the bundled souls he passes on his night walks are brooding on blood, or thinking only of their doors and dinner and a drink, or wondering how much amber the last storm of winter washed up on the beach, how much waits half-buried to give itself to any walker, golden as cool fragments of a lost sun.
Blessed sleep and the long call of light. The morning a mercy of birds. Returned from the black hole of being, she finds all as she left it last night. The chairs askew, the table crumbs, the dishes stacked up in the sink. Yesterday’s dress tossed across the bed. It’s enough to make her think
of how the world just waits for us attending to its nightly song, of how we breathe in time with it and rise again with each new dawn, of how we bear the miracle and find ourselves where we belong.
A flash of colored wing; peacock, pheasant brilliance— turquoise, scarlet, green, bronze, settled soft to downy quiet. Then he spoke a greeting, the same tone as the deepest bell.
He addressed her as favored. Favored? By what? By whom? Even her wonder and her awe did not erase her reason. They conversed between two worlds until she clearly understood.
When she consented and he left, she wondered how her world would be able to wear such brightness. His words still rang the spring air and one, which seemed the sum of all, resounded, rounded, and remained.
Two geologists made this word from the Greek, petros for stone, and ichor, for the liquid that flows through the veins of the gods. They wanted to name the scent of parched earth after fresh rain: The reconstituted redolence of salted silt marbled with terracotta. This old, dry world brought back to loamy life—another name for mercy.