I’m walking down the street, traveling via feet, just like anyone else. But also not.
Noting the sidewalk cracks, three-inch slabs, poured forty years ago. The workers who poured it have either long retired or are dead by now. The grass and trees growing beside the sidewalk, their roots digging down into the brown earth. Some roots reach as far down as the branches reach upward, up towards the sky.
The sky is full of nitrogen and oxygen, and a myriad of various gasses, Nobel and otherwise, plus cosmic dust that settles to Earth constantly, continually adding yearly tonnage to our planet’s weight. (Should the Earth go on a diet?)
Unseen rays, in frequencies deadly or benign, pass through the atmosphere to bounce off or penetrate into and through everything, and everybody, every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year, as the Earth circles the Sun and all the planets and moons in our solar system and our galaxy rotate and spin in impossible loops and circles, intertwining, each axis defining unseen imaginary planes, everything ever-expanding.
Back on Earth, passing the homes of neighbors, friendly or strange, food in all their pantries, laundry unwashed in their hampers, porches un-swept, a dried dead mouse in a long-forgotten trap somewhere, kids playing video games too loudly while adults try to hear the latest political slanders on television.
Scents in the air, bolstered by the humidity of the recent rain, bringing pictures to mind – somebody’s having fried chicken for dinner, rotting leaves in eaves-troughs, a still-uncapped gas can next to a just-put-away lawnmower (the lawn still needs to be edged by the sidewalk), a dog relieved himself after a long wait for Master to come home from work... and... (oddly out-of-place) hairspray?
Each step makes the barest sounds in sneakers – why ‘sneakers’ anyway? Not sneaking up on anyone, just walking... better than ‘tennis shoes’ though, because who the heck plays tennis anymore? (Tennis anyone?) Sweat drips down the brow of the lanky tennis pro who is fearfully awaiting the final serve of his now-winning opponent.
Other sounds far louder than the shoes, like the barking dogs here, two houses down, a block over... the beater sedan bellowing down the main street, protesting its lack of muffler but soon blending into the distant drone of rush hour traffic... a bird calls out, unseen in its tree-top nest.
Higher up, bleeding its cottony tail through the blue, a passenger plane is heading west, filled with commuters and vacationers, each on a different trip on the same plane, some tired and ready for a nap, others excited at finally having time off of work, somebody going to see a sick friend, another running away from parents who just don’t understand what it’s like to be a pregnant teenager failing Math (and Gym, thanks to her swelling belly) The drink cart bangs against her seat as she thinks what to drink.
Rounding the block, coming back to my house, I see my neighbor outside struggling to assemble some kind of new bird feeder apparatus. Mostly sparrows around here, with the occasional robin or nuthatch or cardinal thrown in for color. Not too many migratory species, since we don’t live near a main fly-way route.
He sees me approaching and stops trying to figure out the Chinese-English translated instructions of the bird feeder he got on sale at the hardware store, since I remember seeing the ad in the paper yesterday, and he smiles at me and asks, “Hey! Whatcha doing?”
Turning into my driveway, I wave to him and reply, “Just taking a walk.”
Heaven’s over my head
but Hell’s beneath me
I’ll just have to linger
in this world between