In the tree you and I grew from seed, leaves trembled in spring-shifting sky- took in the late day sunlight and shown in black mirror quiet of the cold pond there just beyond the fence.
There the property line met with an open pasture of ranch land. That’s where you and I met to play a child’s game of truth or dare, where I stepped out of my knee-worn blue jeans and the red diamonds of my shorts and you pulled off your thin T-shirt.
In my memory now I see that we were more than skin naked, untouched, both actors and witnesses in a turn of seasons that moved through our bodies, shaking us as it shook the leaves.
I can’t speak to what came between that time and now, but when I returned to the land where we once played, I could feel our old language in my body -far away, hard to hear, lifting the way birds depart when winter closes in.
On our tree, someone who came after us had carved in the trunk, and on the hills where the ranch had been, tractors guarded hilltops in the dusk, silent, claws high.
Wind ripped through empty branches. I asked what would happen if I saw you now where we had once stood.
When I came back to the land for the third time, at the point of sale, I took a barefoot walk on baked and broken soil. Water had left this patch of land but I stood in the dirt and gave permission to myself to invite old spirits to seep in through my feet, to rise into my arms and legs.
I stopped, looked down, saw seeds seeking to sprout, dozens there at my feet, amber and brown, tiny, expectant, still capable. Picking up a fistful, I shoved them in my pocket. Then it was time. I turned to go.
Our place was at my back. Old branches and roots now left to take their own course. That's how I had to leave it.
March 6, 2010