It is that moment when the moon is a glaring crescent, slowly engulfed by the impending night— when the few clouds give out their fading glow in the jaundiced light of the sodium arc street lamp. It nestles the curb—at first a small bird— when touched, a twisted piece of root.
I want to walk into the weed-strewn aging cemetery, stand in the shadow of the expressway, peel the uncut grass from around her headstone. I remember her arthritic hands clutching mine, in her dark, morgueish apartment, smelling of vinyl camphor borsht. I saw her last in a hospital bed where they catalog and store those awaiting death, stared at the well-tubed skeleton barely indenting starched white sheets. She smiled wanly and whispershouted my name—I held my ground unable to cross the river of years unwilling to touch her outstretched hand. She had no face then, no face now, only an even fainter smell of age of camphor of lilac of must.
Next to the polished headstone lies a small, twisted root. I wish it were a bird I could place gently on the lowest branch of the old maple that oversees her slow departure.
It is the difference I always notice between small and large cities: the parks.
When you sit deeply within Boston Commons or Central Park you can feel the city always threatening to encroach and once again make you its prisoner, smell and hear the city, traffic and trucks rumbling, horns played in a cacophonous symphony.
In small cities you can sit in a park and wonder where downtown could be, distant, a whisper perhaps alwlays unseen, and you can get lost in dreams of childhood smell newly mown grass, and listen unimpeded to the stories the trees are all to willing to tell.
Outside the door nestled in the tall grass white, a plume gossamer, a gift perhaps from a sky finally blue or a tear for the summer’s departure, or, perhaps, a promise, down payment on the freedom from gravity long sought never attained.
The key to a simple meal is to cook the rice until each grain sits comfortably next to its neighbor without touch or embrace. On this, pour a bit of miso diluted by water of a stream or pulled from deep within the earth. Top it all with finally cut vegetables, carefully strewn as you would seeds of grass for a deep, even lawn, but here with sufficient space that the once white, now gently beige surface is dotted with color, so many islands in a slightly muddy stream. When you are done eating the last grain of rice from the bowl consider how many grains have you have eaten and give thanks to the farmer for each one.
But what if, just once time slowed significantly or even stopped. A bird becomes frozen in the sky, not moving, not falling, staring at the distant tree in total stillness. A drop of rain hovers just over the grass dreaming of chlorophyl. If you had such a moment how would you wish to spend it, knowing you would be frozen in that wish.
The entirety of this practice is to learn to walk with a lightness, so that you contact the earth, the grass, not tread on it, so that the earth and the grass caress your feet and not try to push them away, and all the while there must be a gentleness of breath so the sky can fill your lungs lightening you.
The entirety of this practice is to learn to walk with a lightness, so that you contact the earth, the grass, not tread on it, so that the earth and the grass caress your feet and not try to push them away, and all the while there must be a gentleness of breath, so the sky can fill your lungs, lightening you.