Saturday, February 14, 2004


Small shocks of color amidst the general gray and brown of the midwinter woods: red berries, the hard, iridescent green-blue of a mallard's head, the softer green of the pine boughs. Underfoot: mud and decaying leaves, plates of glaucous ice, burly, exposed roots. At the riverbank, shorn knotweed, hollow as bamboo. The eye seeks out the beautiful minutiae. The single ghostly leaf, the thin coils, the weed stalks, still sparsely knobbed with seeds. Their names don't matter anymore. Taxonomies fall away. There is just eye and weed, eye and branch, eye and stone, eye and leaf. Eye and color, movement, shape.The winter days lengthen, illuminate the dead woods. Merciless floodlight.

I am in the riverbank thicket peering at a slip of vine through my camera lens. On the bike path, a young woman passes, singing, walking a groomed white poodle on a leash. The dog's wearing a red bandana. The woman turns, looks at then through me, and keeps on singing: no shyness. A beautiful bird on display.

Later, unlocking my car, I am startled by my reflection in the dark glass of the window: hat pulled low, glasses, face. Low afternoon sunlight harsh in every furrow. Skin taut over cheekbones, loose and concave beneath, quivering slightly with breath. When did I become so old, so thin, so frail ?

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