Posts made in January, 2007

Homeward

Posted by on Jan 7, 2007 in All things natural, Spirit | 0 comments

The moon is slightly off round tonight, and the color of a summer peach, resting lopsided on the dark horizon. A few grey clouds lie wispy across the pocked surface as I drive home in darkness. The man in the cream sedan beside me at the intersection is confused. He thinks I want to race because I left him at the last light. He had his window down, smoking, and smirking at me at the next stop. I cannot see him for the moon that follows me about the earth, ripe and ready to burst. I let him roar ahead, expending gas and pride at three times the rate necessary to beat me. This morning the sun was in a rush and pushed all the believers in it’s path, but the moon is ignorant of time, and hurries no one. Some mornings it doesn’t even bother to hide from the sun, but sits pale and breathless in the dawn until the sun lodges a protest to whatever powers run the sky. The moon only laughs at them and comes and goes as it pleases, changing shape and size in a joking way, teasing little children and lonely wolves.

The man waits for me at the next light, a cool white line of smoke trailing out the window and rising in curls before it disappears over the roofline. The light changes to green as I approach. There is no traffic ahead of me. I sail silently past him and leave him there behind a truck. The moon and I do not change our expression, but inside we are gleeful at our joke

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A Place in the Sun

Posted by on Jan 7, 2007 in All things natural, Spirit | 0 comments

About 10 years ago when I worked at the middle school there was a child I’ll call Emily who intrigued me. She was autistic, but like a lot of special needs children, she had physical and mental problems that overshadowed that issue. She was about 12 at the time, and had what would have been a beautiful face had she not had a deformity in one of her eyes and that certain look of wrongness about her demeanor. Still, Emily was a treasure to us, and certainly to her parents. She was slim and dark and loved clothes and hats. One day she came to school wearing a picture hat with a brim sloped to one side to disguise the issue with her eye. Of course, hats were not allowed in school, but no one even suggested to Emily that she should remove it. The theory on MR children currently is inclusion in regular classes, so Emily and I were on our way to art. She looked forward to the class and was always kindly received by the “normal” group of students. Emily turned her good eye toward me, twisting her head all the way around. She tugged at my arm impatiently and said, “Sing”. I knew the song she wanted, her favorite; I’ve got no strings from Disney’s Pinocchio.

I’ve got no strings

to hold me down

to make me fret, or make me frown

I had strings

But now I’m free

There are no strings on me

I’ve got no strings

So I have fun

I’m not tied up to anyone

They’ve got strings

But you can see

There are no strings on me.

Emily sang the “got no strings part”, but she could never quite memorize the rest of the words. She held her arms in the air and danced down the hall joyful and delighted to show she had no strings. Emily had certain savant talents, like knowing all the names of coins and the names of the people whose faces were embossed on them. I once brought some French money to class and she spent hours looking it over and asking the names of the denominations and the people. I had to do research to find out who they were, but by the end of the day she was saying all the words correctly, and even though I no longer remember them, I’m sure Emily could name them all right now if they were put in front of her.

We made a grand entrance into art class with Emily’s hat set roguishly on her black curls. The teacher insisted that he capture her beautiful chapeau and sat down to make a quick sketch. Emily held onto the black and white page while the rest of the students got ready for a field trip to the wetlands behind the school. They had sketchpads in hand to capture the best of still life but Emily refused and held firmly to her treasure. When the class headed out the door Emily became overwhelmed at the unexpected turn of events.

“Spit,” she said, turning to me with a puzzled look.

“No,” I said, “Emily does not spit, that’s right.” Of course, Emily used to spit when she was mad or upset, but she has the word now and is able to refrain from the activity. I told Emily where we were going and what we were going to do again, just like I had before we had left the special needs room. Emily seemed to recognize the relationship between my story and the actions and settled peacefully into the line of children.

“Trees,” said the teacher with an obvious flourish of his hand to the surroundings. “I want you to find one you like and make a rubbing of the bark and leaves, then we will fill in the picture when we get back into the class room.” He illustrated the skill on a nearby shagbark hickory, his favorite. Everyone took their lead pencils and papers and rushed off to find a tree. I turned to Emily and asked her what tree she would like. She took my hand and pulled me back the way we had come.

“No, Emily, We have to find a tree.” She tugged harder and I decided to follow. Emily marched to her own drummer and we had learned to let her head her band of one when no harm seems to come of doing so. I soon realized what she was headed for. There was an oak right off the path that had been bent into an odd shape by some unknown force early in its life. Although it stood as high as the others, the trunk actually took a right angle turn, then another, making a tiny space that could serve as a seat for someone as small as Emily if she got a boost up high.

“Tree.” Said Emily and I smiled and clapped my hands.

“Wonderful,” I said, “the perfect tree.” She turned her back to the seat and I lifted her feather light frame onto the roost. She sat there for the rest of the class time, watching the others in the distance and repeating,

“Tree!” from time to time. I made a rubbing for her on the extra paper I brought, but Emily refused to help with the drawing. She still clutched her hat picture and fluttered it through the air occasionally. When it was time to leave I wondered if I would have trouble getting Emily to follow the class. They started filing by in twos and threes, each expressing delight in Emily’s cleverness in finding such a great tree. The teacher saw Emily sitting there and acted wildly surprised, even though he had spotted her long before.

“Did you fly up there Emily,” he teased? Emily said,

“Strings” and waved her arms in the air. We all laughed at her joke. The teacher told her we were going back inside to color her picture as he swung her down from her seat.

“Strings” Emily said again, and I realized she just wanted her traveling song, although I always suspected that she understood much more than she let on.

I glanced back at the tree as we walked away singing. It did not ask to be twisted and malformed, but it had managed to accommodate its life comfortably to the circumstances of its situation. I thought of the tree farms with perfect white pines growing in straight rows, all of them identical. Emily’s sweet monotone voice sang out, “got no strings” over and over. Her hat sat firmly askew on her head and her arms waved in the air like they had been newly released from bondage. I came up beside her and put my arm around her shoulders. She stopped singing and looked up at me with one beautiful blue eye. She was holding something in her hand.

“George Washington” she said, showing me her quarter.

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