Sunday, July 10, 2005

as if for a child

Saturday, favorite of all days, I rose early. Breakfast at the coffee shop. They know my order: just half a cup, milky, as if for a child. I bought blueberries and dark sour cherries in bags at the farmers' market, bread buttoned with olives. The post office: running into a friend home early from Thailand. Back to the lake, I wrote four pages. I lost my notebook.

I walked back to the rain shelter, and it was gone from my bag. I retraced my steps, brown tennis shoes laced with pink, my feet inside cut from sandals, the same wound on opposite sides, the same heart-shaped scaring. At the table where I sat by the river, my notebook was not there. It had turned into a turtle, painted orange and gray, sleeping in the soft black earth. There were men in the creek, splashing after frogs no one would catch.

Twice now, I have been told the frogs are real. I know. Tell me again, and I will start to believe it, maybe. You know they will be the first ones to go if our world goes, the first living things to tell us we will no longer be living.

I found it finally in a field, ruffles showing like a girl's skirt. It was only four pages of a fiction that I wrote, not very good. I could re-create it. Edna once remembered an entire manuscript lost in a fire, and my English teacher said she was the one I recalled.

But everyone is always trying to link us to someone--that is part of living now. I was born on a Wednesday in a blizzard that killed a woman as she walked from the barn to the house, a truck driver buried in drifts. You must not let go of the rope--I know this. I am like no one else.

It was not the lost fiction that worried me, but this: first paragraph scrawled on the back, prosaic, but true, my day spilled open for record, for you. I am not like anything that came before. I am different. I am safe. I am telling the truth. I will not let go of the rope.