Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
I have come to The Place of the Cut-off Ears, others have called it Where the Bitter Melon Grows. Regardless of the name given to this spot, it is thick and unruly, crisscrossed with vines that choke the trees and shrubs, morphing them into wooden skeletons. There is an aroma of fall, all year, because of the dead and decay. The ground is spongy from bark and leaves and bodies that have crumbled to dust and layered for decades, maybe centuries; twigs and stems crush easily in the hand and pour off the palm like ground coffee. It is mostly silent. The dense growth swallows sounds. Insects are abundant. In turn, they attract birds and lizards, which attract snakes and the nocturnal hunters. There is always movement, in the trees, on the blades, leaves and flowers of the plants, and on the ground. But things disappear before their sounds reach the ear. One finds that they walk slow and cautious, without realizing it. I walk slow and cautious here, constantly turning my head, searching side to side and to the rear. Hearing and peripheral vision vastly improve in places like this. Adrenaline rushes, but remains suppressed and on call. A visitor glistens with sweat that forms from edginess.
It is in this place, near the base of a dying oak, that I have found what appears to be a small crystal ball. I do not know how it came to be in this location. My foot scuffed into the soft ground and it appeared. I looked in all directions before I bent down to examine it. It has several chips, so perhaps it was discarded, because it lost its usefulness. Or maybe it was lost. I do not know. I wish I could tell you why it is buried beneath the layers of decay. I wish I knew how long it has been in this place, or be able to say it is the reason for my journey, that it was my intent to find this round treasure. But, in truth, I do not know if it holds any power or magic, or whether it can show me anything other than a fisheye view of what is current and proximate. I hope it was lost, rather than discarded. For its smallness, it appears genuine, if one believes that an item such as this exists, or could possibly exist. A first glance into its center seems to offer a view of our planet, as though I were distant, maybe as far as the moon.
After briefly gazing and examining I looked around and found a broken oak stem, on which the ball properly rests, as though they were crafted for each other. I pushed the stem, with the ball on top, into the ground. It looks authentic, but I am not sure. If it is genuine, it will share its magic wherever and whenever it is called to do so. There is no reason to leave it here, resting on this stem stuck in the ground, where it could fall into the possession of one who might not apply its power wisely. I will keep it, and the pedestal, for possible use and good fortune at another time, in another place. I will gaze into it later, see if there is something to be revealed.
I think of all this because the ball reminds me of a kiss I received, when I was twelve. A girl, Brenda, and her mother moved into a trailer a few spaces away. They were from Mississippi, had hair dark as carbon-black. Brenda said her mother was a gypsy and knew magic. She told me more. I was fascinated. We played Ouija. At the end of the evening, she leaned her face to mine and our lips enjoyed an awkward encounter. It was, nonetheless, a kiss. Maybe my find will conjure an image of Brenda, as she is today. I hope she is well and that the answers she received from the Ouija Board came true.