Running with the Yaks
My friend is going blind. He’s known this for most of his life. It’s genetic and can’t be corrected. His father went blind the same way. Gradually the periphery disappears and you’re squinting at the world through a peephole until finally there is no more light. He’s also color-blind, which doubtless explains his sartorial style when I first met him and he was single. He also has night blindness and has never seen the stars.
in the dark
We are on holiday together in Yunnan and take a hike along the marked path in Yak Meadow. It is a cold, clear day. Tibetan prayer flags, shredded by the wind, flap audibly. My friend leaves his wife and me gasping for air as he practically runs ahead of us, his cane skimming the surface before him. I’m a stroller and am soon far behind enjoying the scenery and catching my breath.
mountain top –
the view from down here
Later I meet up with his wife. “Have you seen S?” she asks. I haven’t, and immediately begin surveying the meadow. There, far below near a frozen pond and walking through a herd of yaks, is my friend. We scream and shout and finally get his attention. He turns his back to us and stares out in the direction of the snow-capped mountains for about ten minutes before scrambling back up to the trail.
I leave before I say something angry, something stupid, and head back to the cable car terminal. I suppress the thought that he has come here to die, that the last thing he wants to see is the blinding white of these mountains. About thirty minutes later I spot his wife coming down the path alone.
“He took my camera,” she replies, in no mood to expand on the topic, “and went back down to take pictures of the yaks.”
clear evening –
watching my breath
Note: Previously published in
Contemporary Haibun Online 4:1, March 2008 and Contemporary Haibun 9, April 2008.