A page of carefully scrawled Tibetan letters wavers in the dim candlelight. The night has drawn its blanket over the valley, bringing with it a resonance that is both worn and unbounded.
Here, the city pronounces its name:
Saffron footsteps can be heard through the winding paths, met by the howling of one too many dogs. Some words sit quietly in place, only heard by few, while others yearn for the ears of many. Friends call out to each other, seemingly answered by all. The flattening of space brings noises from near and far together as one layered organism that shifts and shutters with presence.
A motorcycle makes its journey, swallowing the light that guides it. Another, now, sputtering, tired, and out of breath. Their warm engines join together and growl at the streets from iron cages, challenging those who cross their way.
Even the dogs are wary.
A low hum falls between the spaces of words, nostalgic of muttered mantras heard not long before.
A man and woman are speaking hurriedly, while a child repeats himself once, twice, three times underneath their heavy voices. Laughter is hearty and bountiful, and one can only imagine the odd assortment of smiles that belong to each.
The same dog that barks each night begins his prayers. It is late. Hundreds of others join in throughout the valley, their barks coming together from great distances. From shrill and unassuming to dry and inspiring, they pierce the night, interrupting those in casual slumber.
The buildings rest in silence. They, like the mountains that surround them, are listening. Atop their heads prayer flags wander in the wind.
Even the candle has fallen asleep to the lullaby of བལ་ཡུལ, and so will I.