I was walking down a street suspiciously paved to look like one of those classic suburban motifs. It was somewhere you could easily shoot a movie- it had everything in place from the Stop Signs down to the curious skid marks and broken mailbox that made one wonder- what happened? And, Why aren’t there sidewalks?
As I was walking I saw a large tree, I believe it was an Ash. It had scars where climbable branches would have been and stretched high out of a closely cut, withery looking lawn. I saw towards the top of the tree, in its upper limbs, several Crows. They were glaring at the neighbouring tree, an Elm I think, which was full of the annoying chatter of Starlings.
I listened to those Starlings and heard things I could not explain: there were verses from Hamilton and Wicked, and the latest Disney and Pixar films pouring out of their beaks. I cringed and tried not to listen, and turned towards the Crows. I saw among their shadow cut figures several interesting gestures: they were sharing the gossip of various genres of games, film and literature. I gathered the philosophy Crows were on one branch debating the future of existence (as well as the existence of existence), and on another branch were intense gamers who had made it variously to the 25th, and 37th, and 54th levels of their favourite games. And, of course, the Fantasy Footballers who were on a branch below, engaged in their own heated debates. I did not stay long enough to find out about the other branches because as it stood, I had an inkling about each of their conversations but not much further than that.
(An “inkling” is a very small amount; in fact what is often meant by “inkling” is actually: “Nothing, but I don’t want you to think I am unfamiliar with the niceties of conversation, so I will say I’ve heard an ‘inkling’ and ask you to elaborate, please”, except that in this case, no such elaboration was desired, so I decided to leave).
As I continued my walk, the wind began to blow and I could hear the opening credits of several childhood cartoons and Album Hits hitch-hiking the air currents and barreling right towards me. I dodged them and ran down a neatly trimmed hill with several patches of colourfully arranged flowers, stumbling into a pond floor, cemented and shaped, with several spouts churning the water. I heard in the water a murmuring of memes and internet jokes. The water tried to conjure the images up for me, but all I saw were mirages of terrifying description.
The bred fish, who now circled my ankles, were bubbling their own contributions of popular local knowledge- Have I tried this? Have I visited that? Have I seen the thing? Have I eaten the some?
I could feel weight in their questions and was dragged further into the pond. Worrying I would sink and drown, I reached for the bank and pulled myself out.
Laying with my cheek touching the shortened grass I could hear the latest in scientific developments and predictions. There were all kinds of ground breaking ideas and conspiracies to be explored and I felt myself sinking into the soil. No! I pushed away from the ground and ran. I could hear Geese careening after me in the background; there were diplomatic issues and several protests and campaigns to be a part of. They called after me, ever so insistent.
I ran and ran in any direction- away from wind, away from grass, from birds, from water, and found myself skidding headlong into a crowd of bewildered human beings who were doing nothing unusual- just sitting around a fire, near to each other.
I told them of my terrifying ordeal, and they frowned. They had not heard such things. They shared with me some homemade soup and sweets, and told me jokes of their own devising. And they shared their unique news, and what they each were excitedly working on or wondering. They sought my feedback, and did not know what “expertise” meant. They did not expect me to know things, or not to know things, they merely thought I was interesting enough as myself.
They told stories they heard first-hand, and added their own flourishes with each retelling. Some even acted them out. And we laughed recalling things we did in the past, and things we pretended to predict about the future. We talked about things we supposed, and when we supposed too much, we teased each other for it.
I was given several handmade gifts- some handed down, and some made on the spot. And a few collected and blessed. Some were broken, some were messy, and all were wonderful. I took them graciously and conjured up my own heart-felt exchanges.
We loved and embraced one another. We looked at each other intently in the eyes, and saw each others features, and we touched our faces and hands together. When we pulled away, there was a knowing that we were close. No need to be any closer. No need to qualify it.
And after giving what I could, by way of my own stories, jokes, and handful of suppositions, I fell gently asleep next to a fire that crackled. And all it did was crackle…
Photo by Saying Sooth, Taken Autumn 2017.