Early ’90s Drafts of Li Po’s Famous Poem “We sit together/ the mountain and I/ until only the mountain remains.”

Elizabeth Bastos

Staff Writer

Elizabeth Bastos has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and writes at her blog 19th-Century Lady Naturalist. Follow her on Twitter: @elizabethbastos

Dude, when I was visiting college friends in Seattle, in the 90s, I was driving around in my van and suddenly one day out of the twelve that I was there, there was sunshine and I said to myself, Whoa, buddy there’s Mt. Rainier.

Sat there in my van, looking at Mt. Rainier, man.

I was wondering if I should move here from the East Coast, where I was part-time nude modeling for an art class, and get an IT job.

I’m not feeling the East Coast so much.

We sat together, the mountain and I, while I thought about maybe getting a turtle tattoo on my ankle.

What’s so cool, is like, this mountain is big, and I’m like, I’m a wiry small guy thinking about getting a turtle tattoo.

This mountain is awesome! We sit together this mountain and I. Well, technically, I’m in my van. But I’m near it. I’m sitting in my van, near the mountain.

We sit together the mountain and I, until — godddamn it’s cold! It’s that damp cold.

We sit together the mountain and I until — this is epic, dude. This was meant to be: this mountain, all that sweet mountain single track, my buddy Lex has a videocamera we could record ourselves biking — wait a minute, what’s this on my windbreaker?

A seagull just shat on me. While I stepped outside my van for a second to admire the mountain. Harshing my mellow big time ‘bro. Making me think.

It’s all ephemeral isn’t it? The mountain is the only thing that remains dude. That’s what that damn seagull and this shit weather was reminding me of, know what I mean? Gotta write an acoustic set about that. I know I’ve got a pen and paper in my van somewhere.