By Jessica Jacobs

April 28, 2014


After a month alone in this New Mexico canyon, five miles from the nearest neighbor with no electricity and no reception, the cabin’s last inhabitant began hearing things. I wonder if I will, too.

A week here and already everything is sharper: the crab-crawl of pen over paper, the audible troughs of air displaced by the wingbeats of low-flying hawks. The rhythmic hum I assume to be me—ventrical whoosh and thump, circulatory hiss.

The tops of the canyon are vertical horizons. Each night, as the sun nears this vanishing, I walk barefoot in the riverbed. The dry sand is peppery and coarse. Stretches that by morning hold a narrow stream, by evening are dry to the eye but have a velvety give—slick and grainy as the mouthfeel of vanilla bean ice cream.

This last light makes the red walls pulse and breathe, everything hazy, ready to be loved on sight. My dog leaps up a bank and I track him through the underbrush by ear.

Then I hear them—the whispery tintinnabulation of distant bells.

To listen more closely, I stop. They stop, too. So I keep walking, listening, straining to hear where they come from—a direction implying a point of origin, an outside source. Then I look down. With each step, my heel imprints its own small canyon in the sand. When I step away, a scrim of water rises to fill it, disappears in an instant.

That bubbling up is the bell sound.


Photo "Footprints in the Mud" provided by Stuart Herbert, via Flickr creative commons license.

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