Sumac curtsy away from houses, their bases inches from the brick. Who planted trees so close to walls? Scaled trunks bend away and double back, one limb forward, one behind in a flourish. Some decline to curtsy and lean only outward. Tethered with rope to balconies, they are caught as if in flight. Are trees, then, birds in slow motion?
A goose at the center of her own system of circles, bathing. Neck darts down and curls back up, splashing water onto her back. Dart and scoop. Dart, scoop. Her partner a discreet distance off, outside her circles with his face turned. When I stop to watch, they direct turn their bills at me. I imagine them chiding my rudeness, watching this lady’s bath.
A heron hangs in the air.
I walk on.
The difficulty of noticing the moment without noticing myself noticing the moment. Trying to record for the future by describing, but to do so is to live in and for the future. I follow this train of thought through cascading stages: first, thinking about my thoughts, then thinking of the way I think about my thoughts, then thinking of words I’ll say to others, and words they’ll say to me. The pride I’ll feel at their praise (in this kind of imagining, it’s almost always praise). Meanwhile I’ve walked dozens of steps barely noticing, distracted by my thoughts about noticing. This is hard.
In the wood, frost crunching under my sneakers.
A mouse frozen on the path, her body caught mid-tumble. One hind leg extended, long toes tipped by the smallest of nails. Calluses on her soles. Her tail not naked as I’d imagined, but downy as a young girl’s arm with a brush of blond hair at the end. This tail still, yet ominous, snaking away from her rump. Her tear-drop head. Ear like the skin of a seed, transparent. Her large eyes are closed.
Her fur is tawny gold on top and white underneath, shaded all over with an undercoat in grey. Jaunty culottes to her knee. I notice an urge to stroke her side. I crouch closer.
I wonder what killed her and did not mark her or devour her. A clumsy hawk? A bicycle, glancing? If I turn her over I might see the wound – I could do it with a bit of wood from the path. No. Rather, I will take one last look at her paw curled under her face as a child’s would be in sleep, rise, and walk on.
I’m slightly dizzy from all that noticing.
One walking behind me. A man? Having recently read “Thing I do as a woman to feel safe,” I do not feel safe. I notice my resentment that this fear should spill over into my walks, my morning walks where I feel myself expanding into the world. When the man takes a different path, I feel relief.
Sun warm on my wrists, here in the lee of the forest.
Steps up and over the library, down the other side. The stairs are wide and shallow: two short steps and then one long one, two short and a long, alternating on each stair. The boards of the stairs shimmer on the way down.
Crows tilting in the lower air. White gulls in the upper.