March 22, 2014 by scratchtype1
I keep the footfalls light as possible while I cross the train tracks and the gravel. The potter’s field is now behind me and yet it is still in front of me too. I turn left and run a stretch of slightly muddy ground. It is cool to the bare feet and deeper down I can feel a sense of ice and frozen ground where winter still hasn’t left. Further ahead I can see some patches of snow and ice, tucked in a stretch of where the light has trouble finding ways to eliminate the last of the winter snows. My feet slap and tap through areas of thicker mud, water, and snow. The world squishes beneath me or I squish the world. Who’s to know?
After a couple of minutes, I catch flashes of white in the corner of my left eye. I turn to look and see the crocuses. It throws me back to a year ago, when I hiked with some others here. It was a weekend earlier than the one of today and the crocuses were already out then. Spring has been slow to arrive. I can feel that under the feet.
Later. I had stopped running some miles ago. The sore throat and cold from earlier in the week limited me to about 4.5 miles of barefoot running. The sensations of grass, mud, dirt, stone, gravel and asphalt had felt lovely. The slight tightness still in the chest hadn’t felt so lovely and eventually led me to push stop on the Garmin when I reached the giant electrical towers that stretch across the preserve. So I walked then back to the car, checked the blood sugar, found it a little high, injected 2 units of insulin, grabbed the cellphone and began the walk back to take pictures of the crocuses.
So again I now come by potter’s field. How many people have died in history now? How few are remembered. Maybe it would be more appropriate if we were all to be buried in potter’s fields. Or maybe we can bury memories in those fields. Maybe we could collect crocuses and decorate blank stone markers with the crocuses. Who knows if that person buried there ever ran? Who knows if we ever ran together? Was it really 5 years today near a lighthouse along Chesapeake Bay? Don’t ask me now. Don’t ask me later. I will walk by the potter’s field and go to search for crocuses. But I won’t pick them, I will leave them to grow and die. For my own selfishness I will take some pictures.
On the way back to the car, I see and hear lots of crows. Perhaps if any animal could be a totem for an atheist such as me, it is a crow. Once, long ago, when it seemed rather easier to write and to write poems, I had a friend with whom we would share what we wrote and offer advice and suggestions. She asked me why I seemed to have an obsession with three things: hands, old men, and crows. There’s stories to all of them. Although I have a very strong sense if I do begin to write again, old men will not be part of the landscape of images and symbols. I don’t see them anymore. I still see hands and crows a lot.
Crows were the first birds to fascinate me when I was young. I would marvel at their flocks in the fall. Their loudness. How they would take flight from the cornfields together or come to roost in the edges of woods by those harvested fields. Such noise. I sing as well as a crow. I wonder if crows think they’re singing or just talking with each other.
I say they sing. And they sang for me today while I walked by the potter’s field for the fourth time in Cheslen Preserve.