Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts: tumbleweeds, fruit, this morning I could smell _______, no one seemed upset, just move one foot, stories I don’t want or need to hear again, things my mother told me, I was never meant to, raisins, eaten for protein, he began to chant, knowledge is power, better in here anyway, black hole, a pig or a peg, don’t spend another _______, they stared at each other
This morning when I went out for my walk I could smell tomatoes stewing and I thought of the Campbell Soup Plant down Franklin Road, and I thought of the Libby’s Cannery over on Alhambra Boulevard between Q and P Streets, and I thought of the fresh cherry tomatoes Mama used to grow in pots on the back patio, and the big juicy beefsteaks and the small, fragrant Early Girls, the Brandywines, the Striped Chocolates, and the pretty yellow pear shaped fruit too. I think maybe those were my favorite. I’d get them at the farmers’ market under the freeway and eat them on the ride home like candy.
Ordinary memories: mundane and earthy as the bitter scent of nightshade leaves. But move one foot to the west and this version of the past may be swept away like a tumbleweed into a black hole. I close my eyes and see flames twisting down a mountain trail, gobbling up dried conifers in the snow. I remember things Mama told me, dreams and stories I don’t want or need to hear again. “A time is coming,” she used to say, “and not a one of you will have a pig or a peg.” The boys from down the street used to roll their eyes, stare at each other and smirk till I chased them off, throwing rocks at their knees and shins–cuz Mama’d get mad if I threw them at their heads.
“Don’t you spend another minute worrying about me,” she told me one early morning. “You were never meant to be my defender. You’ve got other work to do.” She cooked me oatmeal with raisins, adding walnuts for extra protein. She sent me up the mountain to the ashram school to learn to listen and hear, to look and see, without attachment.
No one here seems upset by Mama’s wild predictions, and that gives me some peace, especially now that the visions are haunting me too. It’s better in here anyway, the light falls a little softer, and the wind is a little warmer.
“Knowledge is power,” the teachers tell me, but many’s the time I’ve wished for ignorance. Really. I wish I didn’t know what was coming.
“If I learn to embrace it, can I change it?” I ask my teachers over and over again, but they shake their heads. No. Flood, fire, blinding rain: add them to the list of things over which we have no control.
And so we begin: to chant.
Photo by Richard Barnard on Unsplash