I was walking through a sculpture garden on my way to class
on a cold October morning in Baltimore, worrying
about tomorrow when I looked up and realized it was fall.
The leaves had begun to redden and turn and surely
this had happened overnight because how could I have missed
this metamorphosis. Some trees had amber leaves like the tea
my dad loved from England, others orange as my mom’s hair,
but none clung to their green and I halted. Some things sneak up
on you, yet all around me the flowers were wilting and
the trees were wasting until there was no beauty left at all
and just yesterday was my little brother’s birthday – I thought
he was turning six but actually he became eight years old just like that.
I remember a sunny winter day in Madrid
wandering through El Retiro, where a big man blew bigger
bubbles with two great wands and small children danced
trying to catch them. I smiled in the Sabatini Gardens
at nightfall, touched by the way the moon shone no matter where she was
and even though she knew she had to go so soon. I blinked
into Barcelona and “Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus” seared across
La Sagrada’s spires, which soared so high one could spend a lifetime
staring skyward and still never truly see it’s zenith.
Down below, I wandered through the Fiery Fields under Naples
and Pompeii, in underground caverns that sustained the ancients
with yellow tuff, a volcanic ash from the explosive past
of Vesuvius, that morphed under pressure like diamonds into
life-giving sandstone and gave way to sunken reservoirs.
I resurfaced after crossing the Adriatic, through Albania
and into Thessaloniki, where I rose like the White Tower
and scaled its spirals till spring spilled down to shower the steeples,
slickening them so I slipped and thought for sure I would sink,
but instead I was transported to the twin tower in Istanbul,
and there I saw the flowers sweep across the hills like wildfire.
I tore through Turkey, spanned the –stans and cruised across the Caspian
till Zhengzhou, China, to the Shaolin Monastery in Mount Song
where I summoned my own Shaolin, Staten Island, and Shakti,
the yoga center where I meditated in the summertime, listening
to shrill chirps of the crickets and the mournful howls of the wind,
who rattled the wood-paneled windows, as if to remind me
to stop and smell the incense. I awoke in California, where
my mom asked me never to go because I might like it too much
and never come back, since I always say I can’t stand the seasons,
those bitter New York winters, and maybe I should stay
where it’s sunny all the time and things don’t seem to change.
But then just think of all the colors I would lose; static
blinds us to the beauty of difference. The sun may struggle
to rise, but the moon lingers for just a bit longer,
and truly time wouldn’t seem to be going anywhere
at all if I only stopped to look more often.