We rode to the funeral. There you cried fluorescent tears. We watched your mother be carried—by six boys—then lowered in earth. I don't remember why I wasn't one of them. I had a very strong back. Though there was no shortage of young men with strength in the country then. ...Your mother was my high school mathematics teacher. You had been schooled at home, I think. We were surprised when she died. She had seemed fine, basically. I overheard someone say, at the lunch afterward, in a corner of the house, quietly to another, that something had burst in her stomach. I did not catch whether it was a baby or some sort of cancer. Now she was buried with it. Dead and buried. I left town soon after. I came back four years later. You were in a tree. One of those trees. Like Spring in the Elm Forest II. It is unlike most of what Edward Munch was to paint. The colors are almost sickening. The Romantic ecstasy dull, dry, gone. The pathos, the pathology, all flattened out. It was like, "a face only a mother could love." That picture. Of that forest. Those trees: very hard to love. ...And the filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, sitting within a clutch of unexceptional Russian trees, by a ubiquitous pond or lake, says, in a taped interview, that young people should get to know solitude. How to be alone with themselves. How not to engage in aggressive, unworthy behaviors in an effort to avoid loneliness. Above all, how to exist alone without finding oneself boring. I want to bring all of my influences into this space, and rest among them, sleep among them, like being warmed by a pile of leaves. Fall in the elm forest, I guess. To go into my backyard in Virginia and fall into a pile of fall leaves. There are my artists, there my philosophers, there my scientists...over here, cradled to my body, held closest to my chest, my lovers...the ones that I have loved, like picking petals from a flower—I have no desire; no, I have more desire—keeping those leaves closest to my chest. But I will not bring them inside. And if I have already done so, or allowed a few of them to enter, please forgive me. Sometimes I seem not to be able to go anywhere without them. It is so embarrassing. It is so, extraordinarily, embarrassing. Look at me, and see how embarrassed I am. ...Oh well you're right I guess that I am not.