One if by Mountain, two if by Sea. The Curiosity Collector

On the longest day of the year, of an okay-ish morning, I had a visitor. 

It was 2018, June the 21st.

The sun was streaked. The fans spun shallow. I on the couch, inhaling poetry. 

Time traveling, conversing with H.D., doing self-inflicted homework.  The Intermediate School of Nothing was in session.  

Adult home schooling paradise. Self-selected syllabi and homework———- the spine of an otherwise life measured by well, Nothing. Imagism was topic of the day.

The windows were open. I was drifting into a semi-stupor of language, image and metaphor, when I sensed a little, light smacking on my head.

It was tentative, a bee whisper. A wandering wing from a half-awake dream.

Another smack. It caught the back of my head. This time more insistent, a call for attention. I was irritated. Annoyed actually.

Oread of the Mountain, Soon to be Sea. Nirupa's Fat finger Drawings on pen and paper

Oread of the Mountain, Soon to be Sea. Nirupa's Fat finger Drawings on pen and paper

A hermetic cave of silence had been invaded. Alarms had not gone off. 

How dare, whoever you are.  Show yourself. 

I looked up. Said intruder was propped precariously on shoulder——— of my ratty couch. Hanging over my head practically.

A beatific smile. Stunning no-mind silence for a few.

I had a visitor. Gender un-specific, definitively. He-she-it. NOT an East Coasty. 

And who are you??!  Did you not read the sign outside.

It says, do not ring buzzer 4. Hermetic cave of silence. Visiting hours in 2019. 

Pause. A not so tentative voice. A voice with an annoying lilting quality to it. Song-like. 

Oread. Pleased to make the introduction. We don’t knock where I come from. We visit. 

AUREAAAAAD…… and where are you from foreigner?

There is a tight immigration policy in effect these days, you know. 

Topographically, from the mountains. Geographically, Greece. 

Greece, almighty. 

That is right. Greece Before Christ.

I am a species they call, mountain nymph. 

As in, the species specialized in thieving? Creatures that rob your heart, dreams, seducing and stuff ?????????

Perhaps. I do not belong to the School of Mischief. I am enrolled in the School of Curiosity and Aspiring Enquiry.

I go by- The Collector of Curiosity. 

Curiosity Collector. EH… heavy stuff.

Oread was solemn with a church bell quality about her. 

Elsewhere, silence like window-cleaners hung. Staring at you when you were least expecting.

You are a young-un. It is 2018 you know. You are technically, an anachronism. 

That is a big word- what does it mean? 

Oread did not seem to have a problem with not knowing. She would have been roadkill in this zip code.

That you are terribly old-fashioned.. Much out of your league. Much outside of  your time league, that is. 

Where I come from- we don’t have time. So perhaps this is not a relevant consideration.  

Hmmm. Hmmmm. Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious! How exactly does one live without time?

So what do you do then, to measure. You know. Hmmmm. You know. Like your life and stuff. How do you know when to start and when to end- a day, an appointment, an obligation? 

I mean how do you pass time. How do you count down your life in years, in months, in weeks, in hours, in minutes, in seconds, in nanos, until the day you call it quits???????

By being here. And then there. Like right now. Like we are speaking. I am listening. You are speaking. When I speak, you listen. And vice-versa.

But but. When do you know what time it is to return back to where you came from? 

Well, I will know when we are done. I will return when I am done here. 

That is it???!!!! 

Do you not have any “must do-should be-obligation kind of stuff” where you come from. Won’t they be waiting for you to show up?

Where I come from, we only live in clouds of overlapping possibilities. We go from moment to moment. There is an instant, which is present, and that is it. We travel from instant to instant. We don’t believe in measurement. This is why I can be in multiple places at the same time. 

Rad. that is quite rad, I must admit. You sound like a quantum particle. Like metaphorically, I mean as a compliment.

Physics is not my first language. So I am being a bit loose mind-you.  

She smiled. A Buddha smile, even though she probably does not hang with Big Brother B. 

For the record, Oread has now been deemed a She.

So what do you get about doing?

Did I hear that right?!!! Did a mountain nymph just ask me- What do I do. In her no-time, mythological speak.

The question that dogs me. The question that will be the death of me. 

Oread….. baby, you don’t even know do you.. what you have gone and done..

Silence. She looks at me. Innocence.

1. Are you asking me where I work? 

2. Are you, are you, gauging me, for what I am worth. 

3. Are you, are you……… asking if I belong here? 

4. Are you passive aggressively trying to guess at how much money I make!!!

And so the battle of near hysterics in response to a harmless question of seven words rages. 

So what do you get about doing. 

They must be hard of hearing in Greece Before Christ. 

Nothing. I do nothing. I make nothing. I value nothing. I am currently in the Intermediate School of Nothing. 

Hmmm…interesting. So you are like me- twins from another planet……………..

Except you are not in a continuous cloud of possibility. So you are sorta stuck on this couch. You cannot be coming and going as you please. 

How does nothing feel to you?

Start monologue. Allow me the confessional. 

Terrible. Most days, I spend 60% of my time in internal battle. The voices, they are all inside- but sometimes they seem to be coming from the outside. Like a hoard of angry neighbors screaming, you know. 

Every day, I work very hard at not letting the inside voices get the better of me. 

There are 168 hours in a week. Which means, I spend about 100 hours a week, battling the angry platoon inside. I have spent 12096 hours doing nothing, of which, I have spent 7257.6 hours, let’s round it up to 7258 hours talking to myself. 

Oread was puzzled, positively confused. 

That is a lot of time to be talking to yourself. 

Not a hint of irony. Or rhetoric. 

No Shit Sherlock. 

Don’t you get tired of hearing your own voice. 

Where I come from, only people really old and batty like wheezy elders, talk to themselves at such great lengths. ……

Silence like shallow fan

They have forgotten how to switch between multiple clouds of possibilities. 

She flipped her fin followed by a head toss, A universal gesture of vanity for the female species, it seems. 

What else do you do in this Nothing School?

Well, I lie on the couch. I read, I write. And then I talk to my angry platoon again. ………..I time travel. I day dream.

And I organize these fun gatherings for people to get together and talk about the creative life. 

She had drifted off. Eyes closed. 

I knew it. My life story had become one giant doozy of dots, pause, empty. A gorgeous, sleep-inducing experiment without the Ambien. 

I had lost the capacity for conversation. I cannot hold my own with a mountain nymph for Christ’s sake!

How was I going to handle myself at a buzzy east-coast party.

Answer with glib confidence, when they asked me, what do you do. Who was I, without a business card? A business card to conquer and silence them all. 

How was I going to compare my life of mostly dots and pauses with lives measured by no punctuation in between. 


For reference, my friends lived lives of—-



I live a life of,                 .                             —                            , :      -                 ———                                                                                                                   

an uninterrupted wall of whitespace. Morse Code for mountain nymphs.                       

Oread was still in stupor. She was mountain nymph dreaming. Only the fins were flipping. 

I tapped the shoulder of the couch lightly. 

Ahemmm. Ummmm. I believe it might be time for you to leave. 

Where I come from, we don’t have time. She repeated it as if it were the first time. 

Where I come from, you don’t ask people to leave. We leave when we are done. No hint of resentment there.

GREEATTTTTT. I am stuck with this mythical-no-time BS, all afternoon. Time for a change of subject. 

Did you not tell me, that you live in the mountains? What then are you doing with fins? 

I envisioned futile fins-hopping up a mountain. Painful and beyond comprehension. A thousand matchsticks to stab the eyes. 

She looked a bit sheepish. 

Well. Actually, if you must ask. I am in between. 

Hmm… what do you mean, in-between. Like between phases, between lives. 

No- in between spaces. Between clouds of possibility. I will be migrating to the sea very soon. 

And what in the world caused that?

Well, in a recent expedition to the world outside Greece after Christ, right in your zipcode, I met someone, named T Ferries. 

He told me that it is mandatory that I be learning. Extending myself, stretching myself, putting myself on a path of growth. Trying something new, trying something outrageous. SO I thought I will try new skin. 

I worked hard and grew a pair of fins. 

I will be moving soon to a far far away world beneath the sea. Where they say nothing really matters. 

Whoa. that is quite some change Oread of the mountains, soon to be Sea.

And here I am, whining and complaining about a Life of Nothing. Yikes. You make me feel like a bag of geese. 

Hehheeeeee.. Clam chuckle. 

What is your name again. 

NEEE-Rupa. Like, no form. 

NEE-RUUPPPA. No Form. Yes, you must stop complaining. But learn to show a bit of kindness to yourself. 

Be kind. Rewind, Nee-ruuupppa, no form. And stop all that chat with yourself. You are in the School of Nothing. Not the Hopeless.  

But….But. I feel like I don’t belong here. 

What is wrong with that. 

She looked at me with a sense of acuity that was confounding. 

You are also an in-between. 

You are now swimming with the fishes. You just need to grow a set of fins. 

And like that she was off. In an instant cloud of multiple possibilities.

A lingering scent of mountain flower. Beads of water in my hair. A couch. Fans spinning shallow. 

Only H.D and me. swimming with Oread and the fishes. 

H.D= Hilda Doolittle. American 20th century, avant-garde poet & memoirist. H.D. Circa 1921

H.D= Hilda Doolittle. American 20th century, avant-garde poet & memoirist. H.D. Circa 1921


BY H. D. (Hilda Doolittle)

Whirl up, sea—

whirl your pointed pines,

splash your great pines

on our rocks,

hurl your green over us,

cover us with your pools of fir.