Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Brook

I am sitting on a small walkway between two houses. The back doors of each face me, their shiny brass knobs and square covered windows stand still, motionless.  It is a narrow five foot space of cracked cement, an old walkway covered in a tiny layer of moss. The green is thickest on the sides, creeping up from the dark moist earth like a premonition, as if to remind me that soon all of man’s ingenuity will be covered in a thicket of leaves and mushrooms. 
The cement is cool and moist, ten degrees colder than the air gently floating by me. The space is shielded from the sun directly by a set of worn, slumping wooden stairs and a tiny square landing. The staircase starts a few feet from the backdoor on my left and leads swiftly, without any meandering, to the second story, where another door, this one without a window stands closed. 
Only narrow bits of sunlight reach the short walkway between the houses, and though the space is not covered in warmth, the light is bright. 
I am sitting outside on the concrete, my legs and bottom quite chilled by the temperature of the ground.  The door to my right, three feet away, is a faded blue. There are yellow spots along the edges of the door, created by time and salt and elements with complex symbols. The wooden planks on the exterior of the house are a very pale yellow, almost white. Large strips of paint are gone, revealing a spotted gray wood battered by the ocean air.  Opposite the blue door is another house, this one with a new coat of thick beige paint and shiny veneer. 
On one side of the walkway is a running brook.  It emerges from a depressed bit of earth just below the cement, travels above ground for three feet, then disappears into the earth once again. Along the edges of the flowing water, which trickles gently over smooth stones the size of large hands, are tender stalks of green foliage. There are leaves with wide heart-shaped leaves that search upwards for the sun. Beside them are small white flowers on thin single stems sprouting from the brook. Dark colored moss verging on black grows over the sides of the rocks lapping against the water. 
Wedged into one of the green stalks is a tiny brown incense stick.  A thin stream of white-gray smoke wafts upwards, dancing like the branches of an old oak tree in constant movement- curling, jagged lines, beautiful ballerina swirls that leave the scent of amber.
The air around me is alive and full.  Cool and moist.  I breath it in deeply, inhaling thick, nutrient filled earth.