Saturday, February 12, 2011

Looking for Agates

Your days and the continent behind you,  you push through sand in a simple  rush of anticipation, looking for agates,  shiny stones hidden in common gravel, your way to feel empty, to have everything in your past washed  away by a big wave.  If it kills you, you  accept that from the Ocean.
You've lived a life of  a dog trained to sniff bombs, ears, nose and eyes open and attentive all the time, staying on top of things, managing danger, naming your various days and your various feelings as things you collected and displayed.
 Today, you trust  your body would lose itself in the sounds of the surf, the rhythms of the waves, finding distance and peace.
You buried your own needs for years.
Now, they pop out in the light, rocks finding their way up. The archeology of your wounds in front of you when you least expect it.
Scenes of past days flash in front of you. You dismiss them, digging deeper for shiny agates, pushing yourself to forget you are even here. 
But Something keeps appearing, scratching and whining at your back door like a new puppy, asking to be let in:  
You are in elementary school, early morning, snow on the ground, very cold.   Instead of cold, mother had said, think of how the angel flakes fall down gently.
What really happened when you shut out your senses?  How did it really go?  You are working it out, moving people around so you can see beyond them, to the space, the smells, the rhythm of that scene, that morning, when your angel flakes distracted you.  
You had your coal bucket with you, though your father had walked you to school and had carried the bucket up to the schoolyard for you.  There, he said, wait  for your teacher to open the door and let you in. Don't stray. 
You carried your grape jam sandwinch because you got up too late for a proper breakfast.  You saw your neighbor girl in a circle, huddled around  an old man. You left your line and joined them. Were you too cold to stand and wait? 
“This is our secret.  Nobody needs to know.  You don’t want your teacher to shoo me away.  I will freeze to death.  You don’t want to do that, do you?  You are good girls, keeping an old man from freezing to death.” This he said, and touched each and every one of you, and in turn asked you to teach your neighbor, to keep warm, to feel good, he had said. Funny, you thought, this is not feeling good.
That scene jars you, makes you stand up straight and turn  to look at the surf in the distance. How often did you hear natives tell you never to turn your back at the Ocean? 
You have known all along what it did to you, decades later, you in charge of protecting  young girls in the play yard, keeping warm under heavy coats, huddled like you and your friends decades before. You commandeered the scene:
“Girls, it’s too cold to be waiting for your parents out here.  Go to the cafeteria.”
“We are doing nothing wrong.”
“I want you to stay warm.  Go, go.”
You had a flash of recognition in those words, “We are doing nothing wrong.”
That’s exactly what your friends said to the teacher when she came over to check on you, seeing you with an old man in your midst, all cuddled up with heavy coats.  The teacher sent the old man away.  You all said, “We're doing nothing wrong.”
You rein in that memory, the stains of grape jam still haunting you today.
Picking up agates you find yourself transformed, living all your ages at once, the girl and the woman at the same time.
Some things should be washed over like sand castles, or buried like agates.
They say nothing is ever lost, only transformed.

(C) rosaria williams


  1. this is my favorite one so far, so descriptive and so silently sinister

  2. Normal, how perceptive you are!