reminders from the crossing guard

the street reeks of ginkgo berries, a warm mushy pungent paste that coats the fresh pavement, which is too hot in this mid-october week. i skid to a stop, panting gently in the shade.

"how are you?" she asks, peacefully standing in the rectangle formed by the power box blocking the afternoon sun.

"hot. too hot. i wish it were colder."

she let me sweat for a moment while the cars blew past us, then reminded me that the weather came from something i didn't understand. true enough, i thought. we have never understood the weather. "are you a christian?" she asks.


"well, sometimes i read the bible," she confesses. "and sometimes i'm out here, and i see the trees waving, and i say it's because they're thanking god for the day."

we cross the street together, looking up at the canopy of branches forming a shield for us against a hazy blue sky. it is mid-october, and they are not yet ready to drop their leaves. sweat pools under my watch strap. she tells me about how before i ran up to her, she was just standing there enjoying the nice breeze.

"and maybe sometimes we gotta think about how our negativity might impact the world around us," she tells me gently, while i take an extra moment to let my skin cool. "we can be grateful just to be here today."

she puts out her hand to me, and thanks me for taking the moment to listen. i shake her hand; it's dry and cool, and she does not grip firmly when she wishes me a good rest of my run.

08 October 2018 16:53


this is the cycle every year; i throw potatoes at the dirt and bury them, slowly, heaping loose compost around the tender sprouts week by week to force them to reach ever higher.

i abandoned them for most of the summer, out of a frustration with my legal relationship to this plot of earth, and knowing that i had planned to be away for a month. weeks ago, i peeled back the top layer of sod, scaring away a large black salamander. i only found enough potatoes to fill the palm of one hand.

"i want ten percent," my downstairs neighbor had joked when i pulled sprouting potatoes out of our shared compost to bury them in the yard. "those are the fingerlings i threw out weeks ago!"

so i laughed at my harvest, some of them small enough to fit up my nose.

some days after that harvest, my brain itched at the thought that i had done something wrong, so i returned to the plot and went several layers deeper. you have to shake the earth with your hands, fingertips gently pushing aside dirt and freeing tangles of roots like matted hair. the earth smells like potatoes. small grubs unroll themselves, the way i feel when my alarm wakes me too early.

i recovered 174 grams of potatoes in total. when i offered 17 grams to my neighbor, he re-gifted them back to me.

04 October 2018 17:21

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