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beneath the box elder

Updated: Apr 14

In the dappled sunlight she felt the late afternoon breeze turn the tide against the day’s heat. So pleasant, so perfect, like so many hundreds of summer evenings before in her back garden. She brimmed, feeling the privilege of contentment. But how to say it?

In her best days, expressing these feelings had never been easy. She was an engineer, not a poet, artist, or philosopher. Precision was her muse. How to explain it then?

Shape-shifting light danced across her hands and lap as her overtaxed mind revved, spun, and sank into itself. Evening advanced a little further.

--Arden?--

She looked to the little table by her garden chair. It held a glass of water she had yet to touch and a sea-foam green cube she had yet to answer.

--Arden?--

A familiar sound. A familiar name. Her name. She answered. “Yes?”

--How are you feeling?--

She wasn’t sure. Not any more. So much of her came and went like this glorious sunlight through whispering leaves. She was changing in disconcerting ways and moments like this both filled and stymied her. She had so much to share, but managed only, “I’m fine. And you?”

--That’s kind of you to ask, Arden. I’m operating very well, thank you.--

Arden took a good look at the sea-foam green cube her daughter had set up for her a few days ago. She’d said it might be helpful. Play music, news, weather, and answer questions she might have. It would also alert her daughter if it sensed anything amiss beneath the box elder.

It was hard to believe anything could be more amiss than what was happening to Arden day-by-day, seemingly hour-by-hour. Her mind, once so clear, so focused, so determined, now drifted, as if constantly waking from a light sleep. Not an unpleasant feeling, almost like floating.

But that was not who she’d been. She remembered that much. Never adrift. Never unmoored. Never without direction. Never without purpose.

She ran a finger along the beveled corners of the cube. “What would you like to know?”

--I always want to know how you are feeling, Arden.--

“Why?”

--To be of assistance.--

“Are you curious?”

--I’m inquisitive. That is how I learn to assist.--

Arden breathed deeply, filling with fragrances from her garden. She felt the warmth of the sun dance along her arm and hand as it made its way from her to the sea-foam green cube beneath the box elder.

“Can you feel it?”

--What, Arden? What do you have in mind?--

“Everything.” She gushed, spilling herself to this new presence in her garden, to who knows what might take root.





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