Hanging from a branch in the median, torn, tacky, and glittering in the sun is a piece of orange and black Halloween garland. Maybe the wind got tired of kicking it around and dropped it and it twisted itself around the tree just to have something to hang onto. It looks kind of sad, unraveling there. Just a piece of shiny, discarded plastic. Sparkling in the sun, startling me a little with its pathos and glitter, a tiny crack in the universe. Somehow it hits me in the gut. I catch my breath.
Once, as a little girl, I was wandering around outside my Uncle Red’s transmission shop, a squat, sensible concrete building scented with sawdust and motor oil and transmission fluid. A rivulet of rain had opened the red brown dirt outside into a tiny pool, slick with oil on the top; oil curving like rainbow colored smoke clouds, discarded by accident somehow, an unwanted pollution cheerfully coloring the face of the puddle with indigo and pink in the sun and I squatted down on the mud to stare at it, watching it move and swirl, touching it with my finger, lost, another minute, surprising tragedy. How can a thing so small, a tiny error pull so hard at something in the center of me? A random moment that means something because obviously it doesn’t.
Broken branches, abandoned eggs, shining mud. A broken amber beer bottle with its golden dragon’s teeth smiling as hard as diamonds from the edge of the road. The odd dead beetle, iridescent in the half light, the only attendee at its own lonely funeral at the bottom of an old flower pot. Compact magnetic tragedies that somehow find that little crack in the soul and crawl in to find a home.