An organic notebook is as good a way as any to commit events and objects to memory. Fallen leaves, bark, twigs, and decaying branches are records of the past. Glistening water moves through grass-lined channels, emerging in bubbling rivulets that slow and subside over terraces, briefly creating a mirror of the sky that soon tarnishes as the earth drinks. The flow, measured by the shadows, is directed by the gardeners’ long-handled shovels. Imagine it as ink, while fallen leaves and twigs form words, and the earth provides pages around which enclosing mud walls form a robust binding.

Like the worn cover of a fieldwork notebook, these walls, too, have suffered the ravages of time. Hands shaped the layers of mud, topped in places by dry thorn brush, that undulate across the landscape. Here and there, festoons of white dog roses, the nastaran of the poets, spill out through rips in the walls. Ruins stand behind the walls, in the dappled shade of tall walnut and plane trees. As in an Islamic miniature, these walls at once conceal, protect, and seduce…

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