Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Garden


The sound of a bamboo thicket is far from the mere rustling of leaves in a winded meadow. Even in a slight breeze, one is subjected to a symphony of creaks and artifacts that that refuse placement. It is as though something is lost in those shoots, maybe something that should stay lost.

I am only near the bamboo for a moment on the path. Soon enough, I encounter kangaroo fern, or a fringe tree, or just an open field in which no children are at play. I also encounter people, mostly white and old. I think, If I am here at my current age, what will I do if I grow as old as them? Will a manicured garden near a singing tower continue to charm the elderly me? In the future, what will there be to look forward to? Amidst the greenery is the occasional statuette of a monk. Probably a saint, someone who watches over and keeps peace. Across the clearing, a sleepy child clings to its mother. I could use a nap as well, but there are miles between me and a place of rest.

The tower is an aberration in this region, where even the orange groves seem less elegant than the local strip malls. The structure is a few stories high, stone and crafted glass. somewhere within, the bells play. I heard them in the distance when I was on the approach. Chimed renderings of songs sung by cowboys long ago and anthems for patriots. But the song had died by the time I got near. The crowd had crept away and the sky grew a shade darker beneath a thick cloud.

As I look at a swan wading in the moat before the tower, a damning phrase subtitles my scene. I get it. This is the eulogy for all experiences that should have been lived through. The disillusioned utterance of an intellect that believes the idea to be more sufficient than orchids, azaleas, roses. I know I have done a wrong thing, but it is too late.

My bike rocks a light luster from a sliver of afternoon sun. When the kickstand is up, the bike goes away, along with the self that I carried into the garden. On my exit, the bells in the tower strike. I don’t know how far their sound travels. Already, I can barely hear them.

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