If you close your eyes you can imagine that this garden was once a tropical jungle as imagined by some clever Floridian striving to separate more tourists from their dwindling travellers checks.
It has been carefully done over, plants native and ornamental replacing the vines and trees, the alligators, real and imaginary gone, now an exhibit of Lego animals, the orchids in bloom, and you wonder why anyone once came here in the old days.
I would like nothing more than to have a long conversation with the birds, that there is much they could tell me, much they know that I should understand but I am the interloper here, and they have lost trust in my kind.
I watch them closely, trying to discern what I can of their thoughts, but in a flash of wing, they erase my efforts, their unique version of giving me the bird, so to speak.
I speak to them, offer apologies, atone for my presence, for the others who have taken their space, and they listen, but in the end, turn away again, having, they say, heard this too many times before.
I stooped and spoke to a stone, asking the question. I was here before you arrived and I will be her long after you leave. I held the sand in my hand warm from the sun, asking the question. I came after your arrived and I will leave long before you are gone. I held the winter wind on the tip of a finger, asking the question. I am not here now and I have never been here. I touched the waters to my lips, asking the question. I was above you when you came and I will be below you when you go. I saw the flames dance before me, asking the question. You were ashes once and you shall be ashes again. I stood mired in the clay clinging to my legs, asking the question. It is of me you were formed and it is to me you will return. I sat at the foot of God blinding light, asking the question. You cried to me at birth and you will cry to me at death.
The seed speckles the snow like buckshot piled neatly under the branch where we, fingers numbed, tied the little chalet to the lowest limb of the ancient maple. The birds stand staring as the squirrel swings slowly in the breeze.
Deep in a small forest, a murmuring brook reflects the shards of sun sliding through the crown of pines, its whispered wisdom infinitely more clear than the babbling of men holding the reins firmly in distant cities of power.
The birds know this well, sing of it in chorus, nature’s music, jazz scatting that the graying clouds absorb, an always willing audience, and the wind rushing by cries through the trees in the voice of long dead poets whose words offer a truth to which cloistered talking heads have grown deaf.
First published in Pages Penned in Pandemic , 2021