Patricio and I were stretched out on the couch, me with my feet pressed against his calves to keep the toes from cold, and we were drifting while a late-night Chilean war movie played on Channel 11. Friday morning had just begun only half an hour before. This is why, when sinuous electronic sirens sounded out beneath a voice repeating "seismic warning," we mused and then sleepily figured it a strange twist to the film. But the warning kept playing over the actors' voices, and we realized the earthquake was about to happen right here. Well, there, really. In the capital, where the shifting lake bed of a city rocks with the tremors sent in from the Pacific.
Up here, some twenty miles away on the foothills, in our sturdy brick one-story house, we sat up and waited, wondering if the shake would make it as far as our place. And it did, when we felt the room slip into an almost imperceptible dizzying sway. We'd have thought it was only imagined--a hoped-for effect--if our light bulbs and towels and other dangling things weren't left swinging back and forth until the momentum was finally lost. It was so quiet and brief. If we'd been fast asleep, it wouldn't have woken us.
And I thought to myself, "The wise man didn't build his house upon the rock in a strictly metaphorical sense."