The End of Lha


The sun struck the mountain and the ice sang lha in all directions. The highest peak of the highest mountain catching the first light and breaking it as if it were bread and all of us could eat loaves and loaves. 

Actual breakfast for the young monks studying. And for us flatlanders/householders, breakfast before breakfast. Always lha to look forward to: the fresh instructions of morning, of mountain. The pressed papers on the table still unread, the service bell unstruck. 

Enough time to remember what it felt like to begin. Every moment a school bus rounding the corner and coming into view. While in the opposite direction, your mother jogging toward the stop, the brown bag lunch you forgot dangling in her hand. That was some present tense! 

Lha the bus, lha the mother, and lha too the willingness to trade everything from the juice box to the cookie just to get close to another kid’s life once you found a seat. Nature once had lessons you didn’t need to learn. 

On the mountain, you slept the solid sleep of a mountain. So you could wake and see the onslaught of dawn move tenderly up its darkest face until it struck the tip of the glacier. 

Lha, lha, lha you sang down the hotel hallway to brunch. The next note pulling you along on its loose, invisible leash. 

But first the tall trees sawing wildly back and forth without breaking. You imagine their roots extending for miles. Or the smell of the belled cat’s fur, fresh from the Great Outdoors. 

But first a paper knife in search of a dead letter to slice and resurrect. The work of the Great Indoors. 

Nakamichi’s death poem goes: “Ice in hot world / My life melts.” 

If you are reading this, your life probably isn’t melting quite as fast—still, it does matter the kind of light you read it by. 

In the sharp clear light of a glacier, one begins to think like a glacier. So slowly one can hardly call it thinking. 

It was seeing, it was feeling, it was the beginning of singing. 

One day you will turn to nature, and it will have nothing to teach you. All the ice having melted, the water having chased every water to its level. 

How then will you know how to begin? The only thing you will know is how to go on. 

Lha lha lha the ice taught us to sing. A song about nothing but beginning, which made its end so strange.