A brown hen named Gary gives a flapping sqawk and makes a dash for the cherry tree in my backyard. Her two speckled girlfriends shoot their heads up and cock suspicious eyes, until they see Gary begin painting her beak black with cherry juice. They jump and run, coming to a calm hesitant stop near Gary as she pecks the ground madly. All three settle into that funky circling step the Meters call the Chicken Strut.
I watch from the steps on my back porch smoking a Top rollie and sipping on a glass of Maofeng Green. I laugh hard every time I see a chicken run. I check my phone real quick, yeah, I still have some time. Hip Hop bumps from the houses behind the cherry tree and I hear the unmistakable cadence of a Southern Black Woman. I can’t see her because there is a fence between us, but I listen for a second.I get up and stretch real long. I let my grunt turn into a jungle yell and then cut it all off with a sigh and walk to the edge of my awning to inspect the browning grass. Its alive with ants and honeybees diligently doing their thing. My eyes can only take the movement from a certain angle, because if I look directly into the grass the entire lawn becomes a writhing sea of blades and tiny brown bodies and my mind reels. But I don’t have that much time right now, so I play it cautious like.
I step along the path a dog named Libberz has beaten into the grass with her daily jaunts through the lawn, heading for the chicken coop area just to see what’s going on, when i feel a shift in the air. I glance left and the hammock strung between the cherry tree and the awning watches me watching her. The breeze touching the hammock is the inviting whisper of a carefree lover. My demeanor turns goofy, as if this were the real thing. I face determinedly forward and walk barefoot on the spiky grass toward the back of my yard. What time is it? Do i have enough time? Sigh.
I pass under the dark shade of the Douglas Fir, taking care not to step on any cones and I look into the wild areas I left in the yard when I mowed it the first time way back in spring. I have been planning on planting a white sign with “where the wild things are” scrawled in black, but I haven’t yet. A rodent rustles the weeds and is gone. The neighbor’s cat tries to will itself through the chainlink fence with its glare. I see this as I walk to the coop. When I am there, I stand between the herb garden and the vegetable garden and just stand there. Take the last puffs of my rollie; wonder why I left my glass on the steps; feel the sun discover my neck for the first time. Its almost time. But I got a little time left.
I know what basil looks like and carrots. There are some cornstalks and I finger the rosemary as I walk on by, passed the coop, to my favorite spot, hidden in the back. I can’t stay long, but I come for a minute or two anyway, every day. To smile upon the gnarled apple tree and the waves of wild grass lapping at its roots. I hear the creaking door of the playhouse in the wind and the brambles seem to grow and grow as the heat becomes almost unbearable. I feel sweat forming, the first beads penetrating my virgin pores. My head starts itching and i turn back. There is a small Buddha shrine in the corner between the vegetable garden and the front of the playhouse. I have to look at it as I pass, anything else might invite trouble. Today, I go as far as the Thai people do and place my palms together and give a slight bow. It can’t hurt. But its about that time. Thoughts that have been banging at the door all afternoon have now kicked their way through and i walk passed where the wild things are and only hear the rustles. They remind me of childhood friends ringing my mom’s doorbell and I feel the same way I did then when my mom said,”We’re eating dinner now.”
Head down I feel the change of the day as I pass in and then out of Papa Fir’s shadow. I better hurry. I feel the breeze again. I know I shouldn’t, its a bad idea, but show me the man who passes by an oasis in the desert and I’ll show you a fool. She is just a white cord now, seen from a distance, but I know and she knows that all I have to do is go over there and she will spread herself wide for me, hold me in her arms like a pea in a pod and rock me all day long. I pretend not to see her and just pick up my glass for those last two sips. This green tea is glorious and I almost moan as the honey dew waterfall green-ness cleanses my mouth and throat and I feel the skin in my eyes shift back several years, as if the glass were spiked with Gelfling. She heard my moan over there, and I glance over to see what the reaction might be. The wind picks up.
Does the hammock really care? Or is my mind willing her to? Is this really happening?
The strong breeze passes over the entire backyard and the chickens feel it and flap a bit, cherries drop, needles hum, the wild places sing as the wave goes from one note to the next till it vanishes behind the chicken coop and I know I heard the creak of the door way back there and if I am not mistaken the sodden plop of an apple. It was decided a long time ago, with that first carefree whisper. In a trance I go to her. The whole backyard laughs the way friends do when two lovers publicly peel away. Its Ok. I still have a little time.