Mack Williams: New path, outside and in
My radius (not the bone) has been limited, as my 2000 Alero has the opposite problem of the Titanic: leaking fluids, instead of taking them on (and at almost the same rate as the ship).
The oil light’s flickering signals my return home, like pre-Columbian sailors afraid of falling off the world’s edge. Whereas they feared monsters, I fear being stranded (but I have AAA Plus).
Instead of driving to the park, I exercise-walked on my cul de sac, wearing a Victorian-style pith helmet. Everybody likes old men in Victorian pith helmets, except maybe those formerly under British colonial rule (in the spirit of “equal time,” I also have a repro German colonial slouch hat).
I heard a distant dog barking, and suddenly remembered a great German shepherd’s head hanging out of the window of a car passing as I exited the local Food Lion. Looking at me, the dog opened its jaws wide, but that was only the beginning of a canine yawn.
One yard, decorated with rocks and seashells has a mailbox mounted on automobile suspension springs. My mail has never been that weighty.
Another yard has frayed hammock fabric still tied to only one tree, seemingly stating: “The decay of ease” (or “the ease of decay”).
One secluded house has rusted iron bars on every window, with “No Trespassing” sign. Perhaps the iron bars on that “off-set” house are for “keeping in,” instead of “keeping out.” On dry land, they aren’t producing Titanic “rusticles;” but they seem to have been in the business of “keeping out” or “keeping in” for a long time.
Several old gravestones lie in partial visibility just within roadside woods, probably invisible in late Spring-late Summer, visually coming and going like some imaginary “Brigadoon burial ground” (where people lie beneath “The Heather on the Hill”).
One grave’s occupant was born in 1872 , fought in World War I, and died in 1951, the same year of my birth. His unadorned grave, only a marker distinguishing it from the forest floor, seems to have become forgotten in only one lifetime (mine).
I then thought of another cemetery dangerously close to the highway (not for the “residents”). But it would be safer for a veering car to come to “rest” against a tombstone instead of a tree (less yielding), such instances often sadly marked along the roadways with plastic wreaths and flowers like those laid upon the grave. It seems an insult that this cemetery’s only “curbing” is that of the highway department. A particular Chestnut Hill family plot contains tombstones of remarkably beautiful pink granite, surrounded with matching curbing (sounds like I’m talking fashion).
Later into my walk, I saw broken slabs of man-made conglomerate, not gravestones; although I have seen conglomerate adapted for such use (“poor man’s porphyry”).
Near the cul de sac’s farther end, the roadside forest canopy reduced the view of bright blue sky to darker-blue gaps. Perhaps it was a contrast “trick of the eye;” or since the sky is so far away, and the leafy shadows so near, maybe the blue was altered by them, just like a star’s distant “pinpoint,” mangled by atmospheric currents into a twinkle.
The road ends in woods, where a life-size, plywood, cut-out cow, painted black-and-white (Holstein-Friesian) rests against a tree (truth is stranger than fiction). It stands on all fours, not like those Chick-Fil-A “bad spellers.” In “Doctor Zhivago”(1965), when Lara mentions a number of “what-ifs” concerning her and Yuri Zhivago’s earlier lives, Yuri replies. “I think we may go mad if we think about all that!” (I think the same about too-much pondering of the reason for the presence of that painted, life-size, wooden, woodland cow).
So, this different asphalt path, only crudely hinted at through shoe-enclosed memory foam, wound up making a deeper impression in gray, skull-enclosed “memory clay.”
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