One day in August, I was backpacking alone in the mountains above Santa Fe, when a storm hit hard. In minutes the water was nearly ankle deep.

Finding a dry plot of ground just large enough to pitch a tent,
I began hammering in pegs, when I heard from the gloom,
"Are you camping there?" I yelled back, "Yes!" "Oh shit!"
came the retort. With dusk coming on, and poems to write,
I was determined to endure.

Throwing the backpack inside, I unrolled the sleeping bag, heated soup over the butane stove's comforting blue hiss,
and slipped on a dry shirt and socks. Given to me by a friend when I left California, the tent had no waterproof fly, so rain-drops skittered along its taut spine a few inches above my head. I expected hypothermia, but survived the night into a gray dawn. Here death comes from ignorance, not exposure.

The preachers announced the end of the world, but Salvatore's parents and grandparents remembered the same story in the past as well, so they came to the conclusion that the world was always about to end.

Today I can see myself in those mountains again: backpack digging into shoulders, wearing the red down jacket that had been to Japan, water rising around mudcaked boots, ghosts emerging from a wilderness alive with the anxiety to survive.

Although I've told this story before, repetition is not circular. Biologist Lynn Margulis wrote, "It's not the individual but the community of life that evolves by cooperation, interaction, and mutual dependence." Each telling begins the story once again, reforged in the rubric of communal life.