from across the aisle i hear rapid percussion. a dull downpour. the grocer, a kid, maybe 16, hefts a wax coated cardboard box to eye-level and tips it forward with the precision of a dump truck. a red onion rolls past my toe. it disappears under a shelf. lucky bugger escaped, i think to myself. a memory surfaces of potatoes bouncing into a blue milk crate. crickets and cicadas cut the air into high pitched rhythms, pulses and sustains. my babcia's humming and muttering setting a tempo for the beat. once in a while she glances over her shoulder, eyes the crate, then me, then the crate, 'potrząsnąć'-she says. shake it. the contents roll around each other, some leap headlong tumbling into the dirt trenches at my feet. now, i imagine the relief of their roots reconnecting with the dirt. a moment of communication, reconnection. then, i just wanted to get the job done as quickly as possible. scooping them up, stealing their hope and sealing their fate, before she noticed. she glances again and i know i have to shake them again. 'cichy' -gently, she reminds. he watches me for a really long time. i work in gridlines. left to right. top to bottom. i wonder if he wonders what i am looking for. one by one i check, and pile, and order and categorize 100 avocados. i know what i am looking for. uniform brown skin, soft crown and bottom, a slight give to the flesh, a green seat under the loosened stem. even a potato deserves dignity. it demands an understanding. she understood this. he doesn't. i pack up my brood and mention to him that an onion escaped under the shelf. 'no problem, i got it' -he says. i pay and as i pass out the sliding doors i can still see the onion sitting motionless in hiding. the young grocer has moved on to the next aisle likely forgetting his promise.
the water was here two weeks ago. nature sank the reeds and weeds though, with sloshed ice and snow pushed against these riverbanks. slow moving massive bullish currents like molasses combed out bent mud streaked grasses. spring high tides kept tidy lines of woven waves. i look upriver. cool wind brings shivers then freezing breezes. one hand to steady as one finger traces absently downward through mineralized seasons. as dust falls from break walls calcified wave lined stains recall a riverful of water once stood where i stand. breathless, my guess is that the ground where my hand rests only recently has resettled. the fresh borne soil is restless because these days it rests less as hikers and bikers cut paths like wounds across its fresh face. it knows that something chaotic stormed through this tract as a reminder of what owns this land. former trees broke and cracked lay askew on their backs and skew the soft river edges with bristled ledges. i sit atop a 40 foot pine and consider for some time how majestically it lays at my feet, and weeps. the week keeps me in place just like this. in stasis. in its fist. stuck on the bank of work fueled spaces the constant grind erases traces of me. and like that mighty pine all i really want to do is lay down and stay down. trampled by elements outside my control. flattened by a force that consumes me whole. and unable to hear a distant warning bell toll that the deluge is rising.
i have never left this place. sitting on the front stoop looking through grass and scrub out over escarpment framed by ashen skies soundtracked by a roiling lake ontario. i have never left this place. feeling the roughened cliff top grasses perched imperiously over temperamental waters. i have never left this place. entreating the sparse indifferent cirrus wisps passing over flitting cliff swallows- where do they go during dark seasons? i have never left this place. and i wonder when memories like this fall away, where do they land? i have never left this place. still, messages from the person i left behind float to shore.