Seven years ago I went into the High Sierras stunned by the desire to die. For hours I stared into a clear mountain stream that fell down over speckled rocks, and then I closed my eyes and prayed that when I opened them I would be gone and somewhere a purple and golden thistle would overflow with light. I had not prayed since I was a child and at first I felt foolish saying the name of God, and then it became another word. All the while I could hear the water's chant below my voice. At last I opened my eyes to the same place, my hands cupped and I drank long from the stream, and then turned for home not even stopping to find the thistle that blazed by my path. Since then I have gone home to the city of my birth and found it gone, a gray and treeless one now in its place. The one house I loved the most simply missing in a row of houses, the park where I napped on summer days fenced and locked, the great shop where we forged, a plane of rubble, the old hurt faces turned away. My brother was with me, thickened by the years, but still my brother, and when we embraced I felt the rough cheek and his hand upon my back tapping as though to tell me, I know! I know! brother, I know! Here in California a new day begins. Full dull clouds ride in from the sea, and this dry valley calls out for rain. My brother has risen hours ago and hobbled to the shower and gone out into the city of death to trade his life for nothing because this is the world. I could pray now, but not to die, for that will come one day or another. I could pray for his bad leg or my son John whose luck is rotten, or for four new teeth, but instead I watch my eucalyptus, the giant in my front yard, bucking and swaying in the wind and hear its tidal roar. In the strange new light the leaves overflow purple and gold, and a fiery dust showers into the day.