From the Cavern

I’m ensconced and ensorcelled in my dark cavern of literature and history and philosophy, happy as a hermit crab sucked up into his seashell. For over three hours of the day no cares and no children and no teachers may distract me, and my mind may roam where it will. Every time I come here I have to sneak in when no one’s around—bands of nuclear-powered South Korean middle schoolers are always sprinting here or there—and I wonder if I’ll be able to keep the secret, to pull this off, until I skidaddle back to America.

Faint blurs (faint mumbles of light) run, jump, and leap past the gray windows, their slippers slapping the floor, their words as indiscernible as their faces. They’d look at me, say hi to me, run over and rub my arm hair, if they saw me sitting in the library; such things make it impossible to even pretend to work, let alone read and write and play and sip at iced coffee and squash a raisin bagel (holy of holies) in my drooling mouth. If I were elsewhere these hours would pass with nothing to show for them. The feeling of peace that results from creation pervades the rest of the day.

Like fleshy boa constrictors the first graders wrapped themselves around my legs this morning, and I nearly lost my voice shouting encouragement to them as they proved that they were far in advance of the alphabet book that I read aloud—at the top of my lungs.

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