I sit here gaping at the white page on the monitor, no words, nothing to go by for the next sentence, red-faced with shame, held in stasis by a major embarrassment, standing on the edge of the high-diving board, relaxing my nerves to step into the flow of the dive, like a singer stepping into the song when the band has set the rhythm in motion, praying it's not a belly-flop. I found the geode. Walking to the mailbox yesterday, I detoured to the place the geode went missing, continuing the search, despite believing it was gone. Before going out the door, I spoke to the geode in my mind and asked it to reveal itself to me if it's still here, if not, please find a way home if you're able. Walked over to the rock it stood on, looked at the ground, thinking, What are you looking here for? You've looked at this exact spot at least fifty times. I saw it. Daffodil leaves had fallen over, as they do this time of year, making a little cave the right size for the geode to roll into. I saw a potion of it like the crown of a baby's head about to be born, after sifting through the immediate area multiple times, lifting up daffodil leaves to see if the geode might have rolled into one of the little toad caves they make. Not there. I apologize to the white teenage boys of America for my presumption.
How did I miss this particular cluster? The most obvious place, the very spot I imagined it might have hit the ground, going by where I most often find it. Birds kick it taking off after standing on it, kick it in the way their feet automatically fold behind when they lift off. I've thought about a touch of glue, but glue does not feel right. Why would it be that seven times seven times looking closely at the exact spot, I'd see it the fiftieth? Approximation, not an exact count. I've no choice but to believe it was there the whole time, that I saw it without seeing it. I had been there on hands and knees searching, and found it from standing up, from just a glance. Can't help but see it a measure of my unconsciousness. One of them palm-to-forehead moments. I dare not ever laugh at somebody else's unconsciousness again. I've been aware of my ability, to the point of it being a talent, to look directly at something and not see it. I don't understand it, but it happens from time to time. Recalling a time looking for car keys I'd set on the desk. Searched all over the desk, even places I knew it could not be, on the floor, in the drawers. Found them in plain sight beside the laptop where I'd set them, where they'd been throughout the search. Before concluding the geode was gone, I reminded self of this propensity to overlook something I'm looking for. I reminded self until I'd become convinced there was not a pixel of ground left unsearched. I did not want to believe it was gone, even after concluding it. It didn't seem right, it didn't feel right for the geode to be gone. It's not that I think I'm psychic. It was simply unwillingness to accept the geode had been usurped surreptitiously, something like willing the dead to return.
The decision to set boundaries about allowing my home to be used for a State Park parking lot continues. If it were the only way into the falls, I'd consider further. There are many. The falls are not on my land. It's time for the one whose property they're on, who owns them, to deal with it. They're more his people than mine. I've done my part. The missing geode was a catalyst that kicked off a decision I'd intended for some years. It's already a welcome relief from concern about leaving the house on weekends, or any day. In the time I had three kittens to raise, I trained them to stay away from humans they didn't know. Could not stand the thought of a nine year old saying, "Mommy, look at the pretty kitty, she's so friendly. Nobody lives in that old house. Can I have her, Mommy? I'll take good care of her. See, she's purring, she likes me." I've only once come home to somebody parked in my parking space. Left a note under the wiper blade, not a parking lot. No need to get mad, just somebody else thinking nobody lives in that old house where ever-thing's growed up, weeds is ever-place, no mowed lawn.
People have been ripping boards from the side of the barn I've been preserving, one of the last barns in the county. To bring it back to life, I store donkey hay there. It is covered in beautiful old oak boards weathered by direct sunlight over eighty years. One of my friends, Tom Pruitt, cut the timber and built the barn. He took the tree trunks by wagon to John Richardson's sawmill at the foot of the mountain in Whitehead, operated at the time by my friend Jr Maxwell in his late teens, who sawed the logs into boards that Tom then carried back up the mountain in a wagon drawn by two big horses, stacked them to let them dry before construction. I could put a want-ad in the Charlotte paper and sell it to a buyer and seller of old wood, who would come here, dismantle it, take the wood and pay a good price. But it is the barn I want, not the money. The barn has heart meaning for me. I appreciate its beauty to the point of preserving it. I'm tired of boards being ripped from the sides by waterfall hikers. After the no-hunting sign was taken from the woodshed, I was thinking the Coca-cola sign would be next, or would already be gone were it not nailed so securely to the wood. Eula Houser at the Kennedy Store in Stratford gave it to me thirty-eight years ago in good faith that I was not going to sell it. Every return from a trip to town I see it and thank Eula.
meret oppenheim herself