In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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Near my grandmother’s house (my grandmother lives in a neighborhood of grandmother houses), there is a small pond. A path separates the pond from the skinny creek, sheathed in trees that feed it.
I sit beneath the trees on the side of the creek today. The shadows of the trees, whose prerogative it is to cast long, dark shadows, shade something in my spirit and it is cool here.
The sky and trees, reflected once in the creek, are reflected again in my thoughts. These are not the black trees written on a light gray sky that small black words bring to mind. But, green and living, they stretch to grasp the sun, lobsterlike in living claws.
There is a small black motion with a red belly in the sky, that is above the trees, that is in the water, that flows in the creek, that lives with me in the world, that some magic solar accident has built. If these are illusions and I am wasting morning time sitting by this little creek, so is time an illusion, so am I.
Now and then, a gentle breeze wanders by and when it does, I cannot clearly see the trees for the forest of water that grows in ripples. If they would only stay still, rest in the water. But even when there is no breeze, tiny waterbugs, wrinkle the water and worry the trees with their quick, crazy actions. Try as I might, I cannot separate the trees from their yoke of water.
I know two things. I will write and I will die. My poetry will be the swelling of perception. My death, the splitting open of my life’s husk and I will be planted and be a tree, a gable on my grandmother’s house.
I look up. Another husk watches me from a puddle of geraniums. A very old man, he sees me in another space, another time, as though I should be occupying someone else’s mind. I smile at him, he looks back, I smile forth.
Church bells. Church bells make a silver sound, like sterling cups being touched in toast: to me, my brother husk and sister tree, a long life (but not too long).
Back to the creek. The trees are still there. But the husk lives in a grandmother house. A house born of the parents of spirit and environment, a union owing much to the sacrifices each has made in love.
And finally, I wonder how someone who does not know us very well can tell us all apart — the trees, the sky, the small black motion with a red belly, the creek, the church bells, the grandmother houses, the other husk and I.
But it is past ten and I must hurry back, or miss getting into the long black car that will take my family to the cemetery.