Who Would Have Thought

The mop of curls on the head of our neighbor Lucas is as golden as those on Le Petit Prince. Lucas came through the woods the other day bearing cookies.

image1 (17)I would not have been able to give you a Baobab tree if I hadn’t watched Art Wolfe last night on Channel 10.

Turning the corner from Walker Rd. to Cedar Hills Blvd. yesterday, where I once was given a $370. ticket for going into the far lane instead of the near one as I turned, I saw in the rear-view mirror the red-blue-red flashing light of an arresting officer. He was after the car behind me, it turned out, who was doing just what I had done six years ago, but I learned how the body knows and remembers: I could feel the flush of fear and anger flood my neck, right through my face.

To respond to that preposterous fine, I went to the traffic court, pled guilty but asked to be allowed to work it off in Community Service. The Judge asked me to elaborate, and I explained that I wanted to volunteer on the switch-board at Hopewell House, an in-patient Hospice. He granted my request, made a gracious comment about the worthiness of Hospice care, waived the fine, and I went off to do what I had been doing for several years. However, he required such a number of hours to complete my punishment that, as a friend pointed out, he was valuing my work at about $7 an hour. I didn’t care. But my body remembered the indignity and the fright, and taught me yet another piece about memory.flag

Now, looking out across our porch at lunch on a Sunday, I see the old flag from Hansville waving its last unfurlings.

No way to detail how it is enwrapped in the book I’ve just almost finished reading: Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Only to say it’s all a piece, all a piece with the poem our neighbor sent me yesterday when he found me posting my “If the Creek Don’t Rise” in our Poetry Box:

For the Children
By Gary Snyder

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.
In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.
To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:
stay together
learn the flowers
go light.

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