there’s a 6 year old boy I spend time with – not as much as I’d like, but a few times a month. This was Thursday, 2 weeks ago:
Where are we going? he asked.
Just down this path.
Where does it go?
Well, I don’t really know, but it will be a nice walk.
We look in the grass for walnut shells left by the crows.
He whoops when he finds two halves side by side
and holds them in his palm for me to see.
Can we glue them back together?
Sure, there’s a glue for that.
What are those? He points to cat tails standing just off the path.
Cat tails. I’ll get one for you.
I step carefully from the path into the saturated field
trying to walk on the tufts of flattened grass
but one foot sinks deep and my shoe is soaked.
Oh well. One shoe, one afternoon.
I snap the dry stalk of the cat tail and move back to the path where he’s been watching me.
Feel this, take a look.
He takes the stalk like a sword
and touches the tip the same way he would test a blade.
Some fluff spills from the cat tail.
Inspired he thrashes the stalk from side to side
and dashes back and forth across the path
smacking the blackberry vines on the border.
Fluff spews and flies to the wind;
it mounds on the path, catches on his sleeve and hair.
He is laughing.
He is Arthur, Ninja, Pirate, Jedi.
Soon the tail is only a withered cat’s paw.
Can you get me another one?
Today, tomorrow, forever if I could.
I will step off the path for you, wade in the water,
bring you what you need —
to make halves whole,
clear the wilderness,
cast doubt to the wind.
Whatever it takes
for you to be equipped to run bravely in the world,
with joy and laughter deep in your belly.