Garden Mud


I’m a well-fed, reasonably educated entity with permeable but definitive boundaries that temporarily separate me from the mud in the garden. I am one with the Universe, one of billions, yet I must be unique. I’ve been assured that the hairs on my head are numbered. This is a particularly odd assurance, since I’m thinking the numbers change daily, hourly, with every bath, brush, or injection of chemicals meant to wipe out fast-growing cells in the body. And even if my hairs are numbered, I’d rather be known by other measures. Say, for instance, how many bags of leaves I’ve rerouted from the landfill, or the number of houses I’ve recycled. Or the number of BTUs I’ve saved by washing said hair in cold water.

I’m veering dangerously close to an appearance by God. No. No, I am not of more value than a whole flock of sparrows. I remember flocks of sparrows undulating in the summer sky. As if a giant housekeeper was standing a thousand feet high in the afternoon sun, shaking out a sparrow rug, the flick of her wrist sending the birds gliding in perfectly coordinated waves. And the lilies of the field? Give me a break. Alicia Keys and I have both stopped wearing make-up, but I’m not giving up my pajamas or down jackets any time soon.

Okay, God. Fine. Have a seat. Would you like the last of the coffee? A cookie? Do you realize when you stop by like this, I feel more alone than ever? Why, you wonder? Well, here’s why.

I live in here. In this particular body, fraught with imperfection and vulnerability. In this particular brain, with its wonderments, endless questions, faulty connections and short circuits, in this particular soul, with forces of compassion endlessly squaring off with forces of selfishness. I don’t know how long this will last, or what matters. To be honest, I’d like to think I matter, but I’m not convinced.

I watch God out of the corner of my eye, sipping lukewarm coffee, nodding. I watch God go molecular and melt into the atmosphere. I watch the atmosphere, thick with God, shimmering. I touch my own thin skin.

Last night, I fried up the last of the paltry potato crop, grown in the dark womb of the garden. I threw in onions and kale, from the same dirt, and I ate. Today, I am nourished, ready for action. From a certain distance, this all makes sense. Close up, I’m tentative, solitary. But if God is to be believed, hair or no hair, I am as dazzling as the nearest star.

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