Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Trendy, old and creepy

Soooo, ahhhh, yeah.

Working at work, minding my own business when this old lady comes up. Now I shouldn't say old. She was like later sixty-ish old. Old enough (TO KNOW BETTER). Errr, yeah. She had on this yellow beret and this outfit that old ladies buy when they have too much money and way too much time.
I didn't expect much out of her. She wanted me to a put a hold on “Healthy Aging”. Ok, ok. I remember that book from working at B&N (it's by this stocky old guy with a beard) so I'm typing in all the information and she's standing on the other side of the counter giving off rich old lady vibes. Kinda crackly. Yes, crackly. Like paper that is being scrunched.

Well, for some reason, I can't hold the book for her. Odd, I think and I take a moment to go ask someone why that is. Oh! It's because she's not a St. Charles patron (she's from Elburn and her library card says Elburn) and only St. Charles patrons get first dibs on new books. “Healthy Aging” is a new book. I tell her this in my distorted way. I don't communicate the best when people are crackling like paper in front of me.
She scowls. She crackles. And she says, “You're discriminating against me.” For a moment, I didn't think she was serious and I just Smiled. I mean Smiled. I thought she was kidding around. And in the second I smiled, I realized she was Not kidding. She was deadly serious. I wiped the smile off my face in that next split second but alas, she caught it. I'm not sure how she took it because the next thing she said was, “Yes, that's right. That's how it is.”

Anyway, blah blah blah, I wouldn't (and couldn't) hold it for and said she could speak to my supervisor, which she said would be useless (which was true). And woah. Woah. I wish I could have died laughing. I'm glad I smiled. It wasn't a pretty smile. It was a mocking smile. Yeah. Old white ladies get descriminated against. You know how it is, folks.

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The Willows Converse Among Themselves

I look across the river and catch sight of the willows, lost in their own world. They have no regard for me. They are speaking to each other in whispers so I hear nothing clearly but I see their long golden-yellow chains wavering over the water. It reflects their light.

There are presences in this world that are not human but sometimes, a human being comes across one of these presences and this is when poetry happens—when we interact with the strange divinity that moves through the world.

I caught sight of the willows and so complete were they within themselves, so beautiful to behold, that my mind stopped dead in its tracks and my heart eased. In the presence of an Other, human commotion becomes impossibly silly and pointless. The past and future converge into the present and there is only now.

I exhale the stress I’ve held this morning as I watch them. The willows, their long hair hanging over their faces, disregard me totally and completely and talk in their slow tree way, something to do with the air, water, and earth. I cannot hear much but what I do hear makes me recall there were other beings on this earth other than myself, older than myself. They exist in this time, in many times, living, dying, always reappearing. The willows hang their hair over the water as they have done for centuries, listening to the currents and moving with the breezes and eddies of the wind.

With a gratefully diminished self, I thank the universe for the ancient poetry that is the willow tree and move forward, reborn, into the bright day.



the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling


(Trans. David G. Lanoue)

Beautiful Dirty Summer

The thick green groves of cup-plants (silphium perfoliatumare) stand eight feet tall and are in their late summer glory. I look up at their bright yellow ray flowers and shield my eyes, the bright flowers sway so high and run so close to the sun. When I squint, the flowers darken into forms without color like the outline of the sun beating through closed eyelids.

I take a step nearer and peer into the leaves. Tiny pools of still water collect where the thick cup leaves meet the stems. It has not rained in the last few weeks and I’m surprised there is any water here at all. For leaves that are not broken or rotted, thimblefuls of water weigh without movement, rimmed with the detritus of summer: a fly’s wing, a wad of spider web, bits of dead grass and portions of pollen.

These tiny pools are water for goldfinches, tiny birds that flash by like rays of light. It hasn’t rained for weeks and this is left, tiny pools of water full of dirty summer. I consider drinking it. With one quick gulp, I’d drink the essence of a passing summer, imbibe what August means, and taste the bitter part of the growing season. This is living but rotting part that underlines all our lives but that no one likes to see, much less taste.

I shift my weight from foot to foot. The sun beats heavily down. The yellow flowers tumble in overhead breezes and the goldfinches live nearby, finding water where they can as the dry weeks pass. My hands drop to my sides and I pass back through the grass, ready for the shade. Perhaps when it rains and all the cup plants are full, I’ll take my drink along with the many others.