Walla Walla

I heard a door shut behind me.  Or was it below me?

It was dark in the room.  My lover was gone, out of the house (She wakes up early sometimes, disappearing at three, or four in the morning, to take a long walk, before the world is alive and kicking.).

I went down the ladder from our loft, and into deeper darkness.

I remembered the voice of the woman in my dream, asking me what it was I meant to do, what it was I would write.

I turned on a small wall lamp, and began to write at the table in my living room, transcribing the words you are reading now…

I decided that my dream accounts should be anchored with details from my life.

In 1978, I was born in Walla Walla.

Fittingly, the town with a double name is also empirically double.  There are two Walla Wallas.

The first is in Australia.  It is close to, confused with, or the same as the town called Wagga Wagga.  I have never been to Australia, and have never ascertained the truth of this detail…

The second Walla Walla lies in the United States, in the rural West.  The name is Native (Now I wonder if it is also Aboriginal).

The commonly given translation for Walla Walla is “land of many waters”.  The town itself lies in a rolling valley, where many creeks flow down from the low Blue Mountains before running out into a river which cuts across a desert to the north.  The river flows wide and huge, its banks having been excavated and engineered to create dams and power stations which block its flow, and make it appear to be a wide, mighty giant.

In the desert there are thousands of square kilometers, land as far as the eye can see, enclosed by a low barbed-wire security fence only two car-lengths from the edge of a small highway which makes a northward path across the desert.  The barbed-wire fence surrounds the government property of a nuclear test area called Hanford…


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