Tidal Basin

Germination Detail Part III, by Leslie Shellow

contemplations about what stays in the net

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bear Country

Today, I ordered a pizza, which I never do because I can't really eat wheat, but the restaurant was new and reminded me of somewhere else, and I sat next to a woman who was talking to a man about her recent trip to Glacier National Park. I had been there, too. Her story involved a zip line. My memory was of a back-country hiking trip with two men who were mad at me for bringing blueberry face wash. I understand. This was an egregious crime in bear country.

She was telling her friend that when you leapt from the platform, there was this moment when you had to open your whole body up in order to slow down. I imagine a balled-up little self plummeting through air and time, and the only remedio, as they say in Spanish, as they say in Cuban Spanish, is to completely open.

Which made me think of Cuba. That morning, I had awoken from a dream about a friend of mine in Cuba. Not that kind of dream. He had fixed up his apartment. He had changed the location of furniture, so that the dresser was where the glass cabinet had been and the bed was in his sister’s room. I remember the feeling of seeing him, and he had aged, and he said, as he always did, “It’s better to have loved and to have lost, than never to have loved at all.” Who wrote that? Tennyson? Cuba?

Once again, I have stripped myself clean and left myself for parts. What remains after Cuba and glaciers and pizza?

Back to the zip line. I plummet forward with my arms stretched wide. My feet are still on the ground. But would I, if offered the chance to jump from a platform, do the same or would I tighten into a small ball? I am not so certain.

I have studied how to place one foot in front of the other without stepping on my own heels.

Sometimes I slip. A twinge of loneliness slithers out of control and ends in a fall. Am I tucked into myself or splayed out large to take the impact?

My assumption is that if one tucks into smallness, one plummets faster, careening over mountains and through thickets of growth. 

I fear when I am large and slowing my own fall, I have run over others or maybe even left them behind.

I fear when I am small and barreling through time, I have run over myself.

The pizza was the one with gluten: my mistake. I didn’t see the alternative part of the menu until the order had been placed. I will sleep it off later, perhaps in the form of a nap, and maybe I will take flight and curl and open and curl and open. And curl and open.

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