Secret Messages

A Prayer, Tucked into a Hollow Log at Fishburn Park: Day Three

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*

path

I got out of the car and walked down the hill alone, a small wooden box clutched in my left hand.

In the last of the day’s light, everything looked like a charcoal sketch:  black and white and gray.  My heavy fleece-lined boots crunched through the wet leaves, and I listened to the patter of rain on my hood, the quiet hiss and burble of the stream.

These were the only sounds resisting the silence.

*

Inside the box was a poem, or perhaps a prayer:

poemscattered

I’d inked it onto pale green paper earlier that day, hungering for spring.  Then I’d folded the pages into the little box and brought it here, to Fishburn Park, because Fishburn is a summer place, and even the emptiness and the gray silence seemed to suggest some promise of green.

I wasn’t sure, at that moment, where I’d leave the box, but something told me to keep walking downhill.

*

I found the hollow log not ten feet away from the streambed.  It rested there as if waiting for someone to sit down on it and take a breath.  The hollow was just large enough that I could wedge the box almost out of sight — almost but not quite —

log1

— which felt perfect.

*

I snapped a few pictures.  Listened to the chatter of the stream, which seemed to say over and over,

it’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming,

and of course I knew what that meant.

I turned to go, and just as I did, a hunting hound sprinted from the forest straight toward me.

He came almost soundlessly, for a creature so big, so that all I could hear was the muffled crash of damp leaves under his paws.

And then he zoomed past — fluid, fast — and disappeared around a bend.

I watched him go, thinking about the way our paths had almost intersected without actually touching.

And that’s true of you and me, too, you know:  we streak past each other like meteorites, blazing bright and burning down, exchanging only the briefest moment of side-thrown sparks…

I could build a fire out of those bits of light.  Warm my hands for days.

*

In the pewter-colored dusk I trudged back up the hill, thinking of my little almost-poem, which of course I’d written for you, who I might never meet.

Here it is.  Come sit down on a hollow log with me, and let’s build a fire and talk.  Maybe the sound of our words will fill up the silence, so that after awhile, in the yellow light of its crackle and warmth, we might even mistake this place for Spring…

log2

*

Oh, God –
let us be the ones
who wade into the waist-high grass.

Come with me,
You who once walked
with humankind
in the Garden.

Let’s go–
the greenness
brushing against our bodies
like a laying-on of hands.

Let’s go without fear
for the burrs in our skirts
or the mud on our legs,
without fear of the fly
that suckles at my neck
& carries my double-helix
coiled in its small black body
up to a clear wet sky.

You have told me,
often,
that the grass withers
& the flower fades —

so remind me,
God,
to run my hands
through all the seedheads,
scattering the next offspring
of green
after green
after green —

into this field, this place,
which is Your word
or perhaps its echo–

(the Word of the Lord,
You told me once,
stands forever)

–so perhaps
two hundred years from now,
a girl from my seed
will wade through this green,
brushing against grass
a thousand generations removed
from this seed I am scattering,

a small-bodied black fly –
offspring of the one I helped to feed –
landing at her throat

& rubbing its small hands together
in hunger
or prayer
or a desire to taste the goodness
of some other living thing —

which perhaps are all one & the same.

me

 

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