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page 15  

Neal Whitman, USA


Summer Retreat


Last fall Elaine and I spent two nights at the New Camaldoli Hermitage – our second visit – south of Big Sur. We exit Highway One and drive up and up, two miles of s-shaped curves. The old rutted, dirt road, newly paved since our first visit. No longer a bumpy ride. Still, the old hand-painted wood sign: SLOW DOWN. We are early for Vespers and stroll in the garden

a monk
welcomes us
in silence

After Vespers we take a hike. Way, way below us, the Pacific. This far up, a silent tide. We fasten our tongues and watch our thoughts.

the cutback trail
longer, but less steep
oh, prickly pears

Our view of a garden bench, from behind: two feet sticking out and two hands holding a book above a hidden head.

an evening primrose
popped open –
the dropping sun


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