Posted by: Viola | March 23, 2014

A Poet Who Sleeps Under Trees

Yesterday, Saturday, I went for a long walk. Two hours long. One hour out and one hour in. One hour to and one hour from. When I got to my destination, I sat down under a tree. In a vast parking lot. I ate a sandwich and some fruit that I had brought with me. I soon lay down under that tree, my belly happy and full. I soon fell asleep. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, so I threw my jacket over my face and passed out. At some point, I was roused from my slumber by a man’s voice asking, “Ma’am, are you ok?” and then a second, more urgent, “MA’AM! MA’AM! ARE YOU OK, MADAME?” The second booming question got me wide awake and I was a bit worried, wondering if I am really OK or not. I threw my jacket off my head and peered through sleepy eyes and through the jarring sunlight. I saw the man asking me if I was alright. A black man wearing a security-guard uniform. I sat up but only slightly, not feeling really awake yet. I mumbled, “Yeah, am OK. Just sleeping. Is it OK to sleep here? Is it allowed?” I hate to break the law in any way. So my first fear was that I was breaking the law by lying down on that particular patch of grass under that particular tree in that particular parking lot. The man said it was OK to be there and he was just checking to make sure I was OK. It then occurred to me that I probably looked like a homeless person, with my beat-up tennis shoes, my plastic bag of snacks lying on the ground next to me, my brown jacket thrown over my face, my body sprawled out on the grass without concern for the dirty-wind whipping by, the cars whizzing by, the sun blazing over-head. I told him that I was just resting, that I had eaten something, fallen asleep and soon I would be heading home. He looked reassured and said “OK, Ma’am, have a good day,” and then he left. I wonder what he would have done if I had not been OK. Maybe he would have offered to help in some way, to call someone on my behalf, or to investigate who I am and seek out what resources might be available to me. I slumped back down to the ground and looked up at the sky, blue with white-turning-to-gray clouds. I realized it was probably going to rain soon. I forced myself up, packed up my plastic bag of mostly eaten snacks, and made my way home. I felt very happy. I smile at the simplicity, the remarkable plainness of walking and of eating under a tree, then sleeping on grass and weeds under a tree and under an open sky and bountiful sun. When I feel stressed, when I feel tired, I am going to remind myself to take a walk, to sit in the sun, to rest under trees…to enjoy all the free things available to me…air, breath, sunlight, wind, rain, grass, trees, sleep, and strangers checking on me to make sure that I am OK.

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