Apology for Being

I am the field near your house, standing sentinel amidst a backdrop of neatly mowed lawns. Some days you examined me from the window, paying more attention to the lazily drifting clouds and winding, imposing trees. Other days you approached and peered into my depths, idly wondering how to unearth my verdant veins.


At first glance I am pale: withered leaves and wispy shoots and waving stems all following the patterns of the breeze. But beneath the veneer I am coiled, tensing, a pastel of darkened green, gentle brown, russet red and winking yellowish-black. Sun and rain and snow call forth my instincts till I am more a hurricane than a garden. But I cannot bear to let you see all of me.


Underneath my naked rows of skin, I am a forest. Weeds and flowers wrestle for purchase so that sometimes I cannot tell how to breathe. Tiny rivers crisscross through me, straining for purpose against thin-packed soil. I am pockmarked by burrows, dens for timid creatures that you hoped to someday coax out of their holes. My sins are snakes that slither through the muck, lying languidly in wait to drag you down to meet me. My hopes are birds, lighting briefly atop their perches and pecking away at parasites before setting off towards greener pastures. At night the fireflies settle, a luminous blanket of thought, and you watch me with renewed wonder.


Somewhere swallowed in that thicket is my heart, a great grassy beast of a boulder tended by lichens and beetles. You searched for it once, hoping perhaps to roll it to a safer place, or sit on it and watch the day pass by, or simply place your hands upon it and feel me crack open under your caress. But the beetles lied and the lichens stayed silent, and you were never able to find it.


What might have emerged if I had not choked myself with growth? How tall might I have risen in your eyes, how close towards the sky, if I had not feared being tamed? I wish I had let you tend me, so that when the seasons turned and you were standing there again, I could bow the way you liked and we could meet as equals.


I am the land, swallowing myself up until one day I am gone and new and you can barely remember the joy you felt when I smiled.