He can spend hours on the wooden bench in the small square in the center of the village. There he is but a statue, staring up at the giant clock face that looms over the square from the turret of the Village Hall. He likes to watch the long hand, arrowlike, make its slow, but inevitable movement, circling the blank outward gaze of the numerals. He does not care much for time, has too much of it some say, too little left, he knows. But here, as he stares fixedly, it stops. There is no motion in that instant, there is only the instant of time. It is no longer real, it is a thought lost or forgotten, and there is only the single moment in which he sits on the wooden bench in the center of the village.
As winter closes in around us, even here, the Great Blue Herons go about building a nest, inviting us to watch as they make a home of gathered branches and twigs, oblivious to the state of our world, of the pandemic gripping us.
We watch respectfully, knowing that in this darkest of seasons, we are about to witness our own little miracle and will soon bear witness to the simple joy of birth.
Each morning, once I have completed the often unpleasant task of dragging myself from the womb of blankets, I make my appearance in front of the mirror.
I stare closely into it, and am unsurprised to find it returning my stare, and on every occasion, I notice that the mirror has once again chosen to wear the same clothes as I, albeit not as well or stylishly, no doubt the result of its limited sense of dimensions.
It is odd that I know so well what the mirror looks like, how it masquerades as this or that until it can no longer hope to avoid me, and yet despite its familiarity, I have no idea at all what I really look like anymore.
They leap from the walls, they are in your face as you approach. You don’t know what to expect and that is precisely how they wish it. Still, you don’t tire of them, and you don’t recoil, but stare more intently. They engage you, defy you and welcome in the same moment, and you only want to follow them deep within the cinder block, the plaster, and take up residence alongside them, and from afar, the mural artists smile.
Yesterday a small dog, walking its master down the block stopped and stared at you, as you stood on your porch. You stared back at the dog, eyes locked on each other, while the master fidgeted on the sidewalk, afraid or too bored to look at either of you. You realized this was just the dog’s way of teaching his master patience, or perhaps of simply delaying you from what it was that brought you to your porch that you forgot in engaging the dog. Eventually the dog dragged its master on, and you returned to the house, having done nothing but stare at a dog. It was clear in that moment that a dog must have Buddha nature but yours was deeply in question.
I could never understand as a child why the moon was female, the sun always male, and most stars but ours had Arabic names. Now makes much more sense to me, the moon is never one to hog the sky and even when she commands more than her usual space, you only want to stare at her in rapture, while the sun is so vain you can stare only briefly and must look away, and he is as likely to hide or flee when he is most wanted, as a calming, steady presence. As for the names of all the others, they don’t sound like ours, and so we cast them off as aliens to our small, smug world
The woman at the next table stares at her fork with eyes which appear bottomless pools of sorrow. She picks at the noodles, raises and lowers the glass of wine without sipping. She is lost within herself and even the waiter approaches with trepidation for fear of falling in and drowning in her sadness. In her eyes are pools of cabernet spilled from glasses cast aside by retreating lovers, the blood of a mother who died in her birth, tears of a father hopelessly alone. You see him returning to the table and a smile of faint hope crosses her lips, lingers a moment and is drawn into her eyes. She watches him finish his wine and with a nod of his head, hers, and she sinks back deep within herself.
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019 at Pg. 41