She remembers picking that pear from atop the old ten foot green wooden tripod ladder that had been used in her family for decades to harvest fruit in hard to get places at the ends of branches.
She remembers as if it is happening now, again, as she reaches for the ripened yellow speckled fruit feeling the power and freedom to express the agility of her body and sense her sensuality. She was ten that fall.
Suddenly, as she realizes the exhilaration of it all, the ladder swings away from her and she is left grasping for the nearest limb to hold onto. Now swinging from the limb, she fiercely wonders if she can safely jump.
“It’s time to holler for help” she thinks to herself, and begins to bellow for someone to come and rescue her.
“Help!" "Help!” she cries as she dangles in the air.
No sign of anyone near to hear her.
Furiously she looks for another way down, surveying the drop to the ground. It looks like a long trip. Swinging to gain momentum to clear the ladder that is now lying on the ground, she aims for a patch of soft dirt.
Taking a breath, she lets go. Falling that seems interminable. She lands on the dark brown soft dirt of her parent’s garden with a thud. She collapses her whole body into the earth that is now barren from the summer crops already harvested.
Rolling over she opens her eyes to the sky above that silhouettes the slender and delicate branches of the pear tree.
“Okay”, Marie entreats her mother. “So what shall I do then?”
“You’ve always told me to keep out of it. But I’ve already done it.”
The older woman silently turns from the pot of hot chicken soup on the stove and sets a bowl on the table in front of Marie. She returns with a second bowl for herself and methodically pulls out her spindle-back chair, slowly lowering herself into the familiar seat.
“Daughter”, she says. “I’ve always told you to stay out of other’s business, now you may have gone and done it. We’ll have to see.”
“Well, he asked me for my opinion on that proposal Mama, so I gave it. ”
And she related just how she did give her opinion to her boss on the proposal he was making to the city planning commission on the river project.
That afternoon, she had told her boss exactly how she saw it all, saying that the planning proposal may be exactly as it “should be” and “according to the texts”, were the words she used, just like all architects and planners had been taught.
Then, gathering steam, she said that his plan had nothing to do with the land, and that the river could not fit into the mold he was proposing.
“The river, she said,” has nature’s way of overflowing when it rains more than a few days in a row. It winds and meanders as a matter of it’s true course. It erodes the banks in places and digs deep holes in others during the wet season.”
Maria had grown up living next to the river. She thought of how the river appears in a desolate arroyo during the dry season, storing the remains of previous waters, with abandoned cars, plastic bags, accumulated branches and discarded lumber all twisted together forming a natural dam containing plastic bottles, tin cans, and the throw offs of the local neighborhoods.
She blurted out to him, unable to stop, “You can’t take a river and put it into a concrete tube to undo all that— then, it is no longer a river.”
“You must find a way to allow the river to flow without creating the damage. Work with it. Don’t try to tie it up.”
“Let it do what it loves to do and encourage it to hold water longer and feed the plants and trees along the banks rather than to build a concrete tube for it to be imprisoned in.”
She ended her plea suddenly saying, “Bring people to it and attend to its riches, but please, don’t concrete it in.”
Done, she stared at him open-eyed as if she just realized she had spoken. For she did not really know who had spoken. He stood across from her behind his desk, red-faced and trembling with fury in his eyes.
Implications came rushing forth in her mind, an exclamation shot out of her mouth as she turned and ran out of the office.
When I wasn't noticing I learned that
the world hopped around in a
pool of pink water
trees swayed in the wind.
Clown faces prepared with makeup
and wild orange hair wigs
worn by women with
large bulging eyes,
Trumpets blaring and violins drawing with
monkeys sitting on the tips
of the bows while
cats stroll between the legs of
muscians' chairs on a
blonde colored hardwood floor.
People with rolls on their backs emerge
from the hole they slept in
overnight near the river.
I learned how black is black,
white is white and some
people fly while
The practice of looking inward may be the most sacrificial act of our life!
No one else can give us who we already are.
This can only be accomplished by meeting our own self —
Bowing to each other —
Bowing to the judge and jury—
Greeting the Great Thinker — meeting eye to eye
Bowing and Greeting — Bowing and Greeting
Having the courage — like a warrior — to say
Hello, I am you and you are me.
It is uncomfortable to hear and see
to what extent we have gone
Turning the volume down low . . . so as
Not see what we would rather
Not hear, nor see
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