From Clues – Batch 4

Henry Walters

Dear Kid, Lady, Z—,Old Foe Friend Stranger Death,

Someday you’re going to get as far off the beaten track as Nevada, & your radio dial’s going to spin like a compass in the Arctic, with no place to lay its weary head, & you’re going to wonder what ever brought you out to this godforsaken stretch of burnt toast in the first place, where the wind farms go for miles, making a guttural whump…whump…whump, a slow roulette that nobody wins, but be patient, wait till your radio dial clicks in & a blind man starts talking about how he’s taught himself to ride a bicycle down any city street by echolocation. He clicks his tongue as he goes, he says, & the sound comes trotting back to him like a seeing-eye dog, bearing news of a curb, or a car door, or the kid who’s crashed her bike in front of him. The blind man says he “clicks around” wherever he goes, picking up images of trees, buildings, chain-link fences—a whole vocabulary of the echoes each thing makes, as though they were calling out to him one by one & pronouncing their names. He’s learned to play soccer, as long as the ball’s wrapped in a plastic bag & music’s playing at one goal to point him the way—he clicks around defenders “before they know I’m coming.” & when you hear that, you’ll laugh & lean your head out the window into the quivering Nevada heat & your click will go streaking down 70 miles of open blacktop in front of you like a tumbleweed before a storm, & you can follow it straight into Great Basin National Park, where you’ll have to sing your way through the sandstone cliffs & canyons to give the mountain lions fair warning that you’re coming. & what will you sing? Something with precision & soul, something to make the lions howl back at you, & the cliffs keep harmony, maybe Chuck Berry, maybe Ella on her staircase, belting & listening & belting again & listening & mounting a little higher every time.

Yours Truly

Henry Walters is a naturalist, teacher, falconer, and writer-in-residence at the Dublin School, in Dublin, New Hampshire. He is the author of Field Guide A Tempo.
Originally published:
December 10, 2018

Featured

Community

Finding company on and off the page
Carl Phillips

Conversations

Emily Ogden and Dana Spiotta

Reckoning with middle age and complicity
Emily Ogden
and
Dana Spiotta

The Stakes of Dictee

An introduction to a famously difficult work
Ken Chen

Subscribe

Help keep print culture alive. For a limited time, enjoy 10% off two- and three-year subscriptions.
Subscribe