Some weeks ago I was putting on my shoes, which had been in the garage over the weekend, and I felt something soft, almost like a balled-up tissue, under my heel in the shoe. I wiggled my foot around in there and even squeezed down a little, as if I just hadn’t got the shoe on right. Then I thought better of it and slipped off the shoe, glancing inside as I pulled the shoe away from my heel. It was a little mouse, not moving, but the sight of it prompted me to go into a kind of involuntary panic and I threw the shoe down and threw myself in the other direction onto the floor and shuddered. Then I realized I must have squished it and, struck with an immediate kind of remorse, I picked up the shoe again to see if the mouse could, possibly, be okay. He (I don’t know if it was a he or a she) looked just as if he’d fallen asleep, he didn’t look squished, except that now he began to shudder and I saw that this was probably a death-shudder and I started walking outside with the shoe, thinking that maybe if I left the shoe outside awhile I’d come home later and find the mouse gone, meaning he’d recovered from the nasty shock of being squished and run away. I put him down, still inside the shoe, near the compost and I started to cry. And I cried, the whole way to work with my mom in the car, and sometime after I dropped her off, and later in the afternoon, and later in the evening, when I thought of it and the memory of the balled-up Kleenex feeling under my foot came to mind. It was so intimate somehow, how I’d killed him. It was so clearly my fault and also so clearly not at all a matter of fault. Only an accident. I went back to the shoe when I returned in the evening and he was still there, stiff and dead. I buried him in a shallow grave further back, where the woods started, and I apologized for squishing him and wished him well as best I could through my tears.
and you may come to me in my dreams
and hold my hand
because i missed you there,
and i will turn to you in my sleep
and rest my cheek against yours
and i will know that i am not crooked
if the world was just more alive, then.
I let myself be still
and I cried through my meditation
- cried through breakfast.
I sat in the backyard, in the tree-circle,
I heard it, the humming,
and I felt it, as if it was seeping into my skin
- no less alive,
only as alive as I let myself be.
I can just make out your lips
and my love goes leaping up
but there’s nowhere for it
I see now
that I have a home
and this time it will be with relief
that I go into your arms
I read this book and it’s not real it’s not real I keep telling myself but it is real it is real in the people who are doing the things in this book and saying the things and not feeling never feeling that is the last thing you want to do unless the feeling is comfortable then it is okay and what do I do with this with this book that made me feel so much but mostly that feeling is helpless what do you do with that
and you make it so beautifully easy for me to come to you and feel what I feel no matter what I am feeling even if it’s about you because you love me too and it is just as inexplicable when you do it and I wonder why this does not terrify me even though it does in a way but only in a small way in the way of a thousand little voices of people who do not really care who would not understand who could not possibly and yet somehow they still have something to say about it but I do not listen to them anyway because I know even if I don’t know and I love because I love because I love you and as long as you do too then it is okay
He said you are not who you think you are. You know who you are:
You are love.
You are love.
You are love.
I said it to myself, again and again:
I know who I am.
I am love.
I am love.
And then, I feel it: I am.
All the way to my fingertips and shooting out of me like sparks.
Traversing the distance, until there is none.
Until you are me and I you.
Until I forget who I am.
So I say it again:
I am love…
cuddled with the earth today
spread my roots down
palms pressed to her soil
cheek to cheek
and a tangle of green shot up from my back
catching the morning sun on its way
growing my love a little higher
Yesterday morning a little book found me in the lounge of my hotel. It’s called This Morning I Met A Whale. It’s the story of a boy who goes for a walk in the early morning and meets a whale that has swum up the Thames. The whale has risked his life to deliver a message to the boy, in the hope that the boy will pass along the message to the other humans. The whale tells of the killing and destruction that humans are responsible for. How if it doesn’t stop both they and the whales will be doomed. The boy returns to his classroom and begins to share the story of the whale with his class, when he and the others find out that the whale is caught in the Thames. They all go out to see the whale and the boy rushes to the beach to help save the whale. He even tries to swim back up the Thames with the whale, but the whale is too tired and disoriented. He cannot swim back and so the boy stays with the whale until he dies.
Somehow it was hopeful, this little story. The boy promises he will carry the whale’s message and you come away from it knowing that he will do everything he can. I could barely see through my tears, though, as I finished the book.
I thought I would walk down to the tea plantation in the valley. I had a bad feeling about the kittens and I didn’t want to hear that they had all died. It was nicer to think maybe 1 or 2, or even the 3 of them, could be doing well and getting bigger and stronger every day. But as I trotted down the mountain there were road markers counting the kilometres to Lebong. I hadn’t realized I was going in the same direction as the animal shelter. When I reached the tea plantation it was only 3 kilometres to Lebong.
I thought maybe it was a sign I should go. Or maybe that I shouldn’t be afraid to go. It was only 3 kilometres more. I could walk it.
I found the shelter. It was off of the main road, deep in the valley, and housed in a couple of tidy white buildings behind a tall gate. There was a lot of activity at the clinic. People with their dogs, hoping to see the veterinarian, who was operating on numerous dogs from the shelter that day. I waited patiently, hoping to get a chance to see the veterinarian. An hour and a half passed and he didn’t come out of the operating room. I wondered where the kittens could be. Were they being kept in one of the offices in the houses? The dogs were kept in little gated cells behind the white buildings. There were cats hanging around but they didn’t look as if they were patients anymore.
It seemed like as nice a place as any for the kittens to go. I started to wonder if I would be getting bad news from the doctor. I kept poking my head in the window, trying to get the veterinarian’s attention, but he didn’t seem to see me there.
At first I felt calm, and even brave, for facing my fears and seeking out the shelter. But as the time passed I started to get the feeling that I wouldn’t get to see any kittens. I started feeling a little light-headed. Started watching the flies settling on the dogs waiting outside, the stains on the concrete under my feet. The dogs in cages were making terrible, sad sounds above us. Finally I made my way over to the office and pushed open the door. There was a lady in there. I asked if she spoke English, and I told her who I was.
I knew right away by the big in-breath she took, the sigh and the shrug, that the kittens had died. She didn’t tell me much. She said they were just too little, too young. They tried their best to save them. She didn’t seem to want to say more, and I didn’t ask. I was busy taking deep breaths and trying not to cry. It made it hard to focus on what she was saying.
I got about a block away before the tears started, and I cried for about 2 kilometres. At about the 5 kilometre mark I remembered the book. Somehow it made it better, thinking of this little book and this little boy who did his very best to save the whale. The little boy couldn’t save the whale either.
The whale was a part of something bigger though. He had a message for the boy, that the boy would carry for the rest of his life.
The kittens didn’t talk to me or anything. I’m not sure if they carried some special message for me. But they opened me up. They made me love and care about something. They made me feel just how precious life is.
How cold must have been the heart that left them there in the marketplace. I understand, in a way, how you could feel you don’t have a choice. Still I am glad that I was the one that took them in and tried to give them a chance.
There’s this little girl, the girl I used to be, who wouldn’t have hesitated for a moment. Like the little boy in the story. She would have picked up the kittens, cuddled them, taken them home and made sure they were okay. Thank goodness I found those kittens and took them back to my room. It lets me know that she’s still with me.