i keep getting caught in the space between knowing a thing and understanding it. forests are full of reminders of the unseen. of distance between. reminders escaping meaning. like how that woodpecker eyed me before i, he. or how i heard him, before he, me. i drew to him as the echoes varied. high low high low fast slow fast slow. in alternating tones. the pound from his sounds was designed to save him from headaches. like this forest does for me. it separates the mind from the pain. the 'here we go' from the 'again'. but i just had to know more, so i googled for a bit. a woodpecker's skull sits on suspension, has seatbelts to hold its brain in place, and the pace never pecks in the exact same space. peckings had stopped, but were still chased around the green by echoes. and it seemed like the moment was here and everywhere. just like the unseen. suddenly i was two feet from his workspace. interrupting his meal, my eyes fell into his, mid grace. my meaning making started and i believed the bird wanted me closer. he chose here to stay and wait a bit longer. and the longer i stood the clearer it became that actually 'no sir' was his message as he flew off abandoning me there.
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.