Elizabeth Jacobson, 53
Sante Fe, NM
I sat on the floor of the mahogany temple wrapping Roshi’s feet in steaming towels. There was a basin of hot, October-scented water to one side of my crossed legs, and I dipped saffron colored chamisa flowers into this water, their rich pollen filming on the surface like pond scum. Roshi said she was taking some women to a river where they would travel by canoes to a warm water spring overgrown with watercress and mint. Won’t you come with us, Elizabeth? she asked, taking my hands and placing them over her eyes. I ran home across the canyon to get my oars, thinking as I ran that I was dreaming, and that dreaming is a way for the mind to know that it is asleep and not dead. I was so happy that I was alive and in this dream. I jumped back over the canyon with my long wooden oars under my arms, and returned just as the queue of women was leaving. I joined the end of this curving line, but I needed to keep running to catch up. Over and over I would catch up, and then see that I had fallen far behind again. Arriving at the grassy banks of the river, we were surprised to find that the canoes were gone, so Roshi told us all to curl up into a ball and rest on our sides, holding both feet in one hand and cupping one of our breasts in the other. We lay like that for a long time, on the moist green shore, by the side of this river. I was overcome with the warmth and rawness of my breast in my hand, how this small sphere of skin and fluid was raising the temperature of my entire body. Some of Roshi’s things: her sunglasses, her straw hat, floated past me in the water, and I grabbed them for her. I raised my hands to show her the things I had retrieved from the water, and with her head bowed, she uncurled her fists to reveal wide–open blue eyes in the center of each yellow palm.