A sunny, cool, windy afternoon out on the deck with a friend, looking down at the deodar cedar that planted itself in my backyard 17 years ago when
its mommy next door was hacked down on behalf of owners who wanted disneyland for their toddlers. I still feel the shadow of the decision; still
At the planning commission appeal hearing, woman complains that her children will get sticky hands. I speak for the tree & up
there on the panel an older suit & tie listens & then rolls his eyes. Someone mentions that my two coastal redwoods might not be compliant.
The baby tree needs pruning since it has gotten the gift of so much rain after years of drought. Everything else out there is
responding in like manner: the rodent-planted buckeye, the self-seeded lavender; the horse-trough planters full of weeds that the
hens apparently are quite happy to eat if I throw a swath into the coop; the spiky succulents that re-invent themselves in nearby pots.
That house & yard empty after a couple of short-term tenants, the ticket-holders for disneyland gone & headed out into the world; a
giant padlock on the two mismatched doors of tiny ancient garage; the scrubby grass recalls the soaking blood of a mangled pet rabbit, boy my grandson's age shrieking no no no no.
My kitchen no longer has a view of enormous swaying branches partially blocking the afternoon sun and my parlor stands frozen
in obscurity; those invitations to visit, to hear my music boxes, my player piano—I hear them practicing, I know they'll make the connection, I want to affect their lives—a study in selective
amnesia. O I'm not really into that. O they'll make a mess. They have soccer. You defied us. Over the fence; they've forgotten. The
twin girls were in love with my son's baby.
When they moved out, piles of detritus littered the driveway; over-flowing, stinking garbage in ripped black-plastic bags. I rescued a
sweet worn little oriental throw rug & a coffee maker; called the city to deal with the rest.
This afternoon, we've stumbled into this conversation & then the question is posed: what the heck is karma anyway?
I think it is the time I was still shopping at our old beat-up Safeway a few years back & the lines were long & tempers short &
holy moly, mayonnaise still came in glass jars. Our cashier had a case of the slipsies & BAM shards-n-mayo-surprise everywhere.
An audible groan arose from the weary shoppers. She was equipped with a roll of paper towels & I'm sure her count was
correct at the end of her shift & she needed that job, but maybe it just wasn't her day. She froze. I don't remember what the actual
customer was doing, but I saw myself in that role—mother of three boys, counter-wiper, sandwich-maker, log-jam-clearer,
nobody's-going-anywhere-til-the-basement's-clean-enforcer—as I stepped into the fray. No words were exchanged; perhaps a shot of tired/grateful looks between us.
I believe I got me some goddamn karma points.