And now, today, we leave this saintly village—how I want to stay in Samar, please let me stay?—but today we leave this oasis to sweat and pant and piss and moan and laugh, skate and slide and stick to dirt made of the dust of the great goddess’s carving, countless tiny and tinier pebbles red, orange, yellow. Today we climb down and up and up and down to one of many sacred meditation caves of Padmasambhava.
To Rangjung Drakpuk. The Self-Arisen Rock Cave.
My feet love these good boots;
the conversation between my boots and feet a steady stream of comfort and care and gratitude.
No blisters. No twists. No stumbles.
No jeep.
Now climbing along a knife edge I imagine falling
Imagine being looked down at as I go
looking up and terrified faces
laughing
Arms wide open—a backwards skydive—yelling, hey it’s okay
Really
You’d like the view
the word ‘view’ is a long drawn out falling sound
It’s the cry of a hawk
Veeeeeeeewwwwwww
And if I couldn’t pull it off, if I was still scared shitless
They’d never know and I wouldn’t know either. Fear is easily fooled.

The layered alpine beauty of Samar—tender grass, flowers, bush and tree—gives way to rock and her offspring—sand, gravel, dirt, dust—the landscape swallows us up. We file one by one down inside the earth. We are ants. We are nothing but two-legged bugs following behind each other. At the head of the pack our horseman whistles and sings to his horses, loaded down with our gear. The sound grows dim and disappears in the cavernous rent in the ground that is our path.
Dropping down into the deep canyon is an up and down but mostly down thing for hours, down down down toes spread
heels pressed hard but not too hard, always the knee bends, the ankle yields, the spine sways, our bone against the this bone, the eyes of the rocks on us, who’s looking at who?
steep rock echo bird dive overhead—a vulture—the sky is blue the sun is white the land is yellow. Far below us a thread of silver water catches light, the song of its passing is distant but clear. Flute and bell, drum and voice.

Finally we reach the bottom, we– like the sky turned to air around us are here at the bottom, the walls of the canyon above us, sun still overhead but nearly gone, still, so hot hot burning—creek-riverwater carving, doing her work, her song is loud here, carving ever deeper into the rock, someday the earth will split in two perhaps with all this carving, like a great melon…
the creek is narrow but feisty.
Here comes the goat herder and his herd from the other side, him whistling, calling, the goats—long black hair, white tipped ears, curled back horns– calling, stopping suddenly afraid of us
The herder chucks rocks, hollers again
they move, wild-eyed
bells ringing goats singing, river singing, laughing, complaining off they go
through the creek up the mountainside
They appear out of nowhere and head to more of same nowhere nowhere is
Everywhere around us with all its trappings of nothingness.

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