I haven’t felt well the last few days. Ever since the migraine, my body has ached all over as if a fever waited just over the horizon. Yesterday was my last day at my old job. I’m thankful for it for many reasons. It’s always nice when a decision is reinforced, and yesterday reminded me of many of the reasons I was leaving.
I had to Metro there and get up much earlier. I was a double yesterday, and I made very little money at lunch. (Think $14.) I then had a couple hours to kill, and after getting a little sunburned in the shade with my book, I decided to seek out a more sheltered place under some trees. I discovered a park several blocks away with nice grass, and I laid down there.
I’d planned to read or nap. My body betrayed me, the relief of the cool grass and the soft breeze lulling me into immobility, but not slumber. I spent almost two hours doing nothing more than being still and looking upward.
It struck me that our world so seldom does nothing. There were bouncing basketballs at times, and cars went by, but that little oasis of a park stayed quiet with only the rustle of leaves and swaying branches for accompaniment. So there I stayed, watching. Once a tiny vermilion finch flew overhead, the sun backlighting his wings and sketching every perfect detail.
I don’t know the last time I just sat in nature and enjoyed it. I was raised in a quasi-pagan home, and a love of nature and the earth was something that was gently impressed upon me every day, like the touch of a rubber stamp so often that the ink remains on your skin like a tattoo. It’s been a while. And yesterday, with my knees and muscles aching and feeling more aged than twenty-seven years, I made room in my heart again for the quiet awe that nature affords frail humans when she is in a peaceful mood. There are times for terrible fear of her might, but when she is calm, there is a soft felicity.
As I lay there staring upward, something began to change. The sun’s trajectory turned downward toward the horizon, and tiny shimmering lights appeared. At first I marveled at them, at how the light of the sun could create these shining orbs from small teardrop shapes filled with chlorophyll. Then I began to scrawl in a notebook, still gazing up, not watching the words hit the paper.
It feels almost like a poem, though I seldom write poetry. It just sort of…is.
The sun lit the leaves on the trees above
as if the woods had caught tight
the light of thousands of stars
and hung them on their branches.
Some hover still and stoic
burning bright as sun on metal;
others twirl and twinkle with the breeze.
Together they shine as fine
as any clear moonless night sky could conceive
and I know that were I to chase
the brightness and scale
the elm’s rough body
the stars would vanish
from the bower of branches,
and like pursuit of rainbow’s end
I would hold naught but leaves.
They will not be captured
as day’s shining stars.
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