I’m shy,a little
overweight and wear glasses.I’m eleven
years old.I’m smart, but I don’t raise
my hand in class.I don’t volunteer to
read aloud.I don’t want to be included
in a school play, even as the narrator reading from a script.I’m not like my older sister who relishes
being center stage.When appointed to be
the narrator, I’m too scared to object. I practice reading the lines at home,
again and again.My sister is my audience.Rehearsals go smoothly; there’s only the
teacher and the other kids in the play.On the day of the show, there’s lots of encouragement from the teacher and big sis, but now there is an audience.
“You have to do it,” my sister says
“You do it,” I say.I
give her the script and go sit in the back of the auditorium.
She does it beautifully, not merely reading the narrative,
but reciting it from memory.
We park in the
nature preserve near a path that leads downward. On our left is a pond edged
with water lilies and lotus blossoms. Along the outer edge grow reeds and
bulrushes. A familiar sound causes us to
turn towards it.
an ancient poem–
a pond, a frog,
a beginning with
A rustle in the
reeds attracts our attention again. This time, it’s a painted turtle with a
shell about six inches long, moving slowly toward the pond. After watching it
quietly slide into the water, we begin our descent. The dirt path is rutted and
peppered with loose stones.
slow and steady
to keep our
years of marriage
there is still a
plants fill in the spaces between mature trees, the green enlivened by
occasional clusters of small pink or white blossoms.At the end of our descent is a thick growth
of ferns in various sizes and species, from a single shoot of only a few inches
to others two and three feet high and just as wide across.
We’re the only
ones here, but others have come before us.
The autumn chores are complete. Plants cut back. The
planting beds cleared of debris. Wood stacked by the back door. Container
plants we want to save brought inside. Each year we ask:how much longer can we do this? Each year we
move more slowly; the clean-up takes longer; we have more aches afterwards.
Knees, backs, shoulders–all complaining loudly. Each year we think about a