Category Archives: small stories

Changeling

A centipede decided it wanted to buried under the sunflower sprout I was planting. I don’t know where it came from: I dug the hole, left to get the sunflower sprout waiting in its container, and arrived back to find a centipede in the hole. It was a large centipede, and the exact color and transparency of coffee before you put the cream in. My efforts to gently flip it out with my trowel were in vain. The soil tumbled back in, and the centipede rode its hundred legs back down to the bottom. The centipede clearly meant to be buried under this sunflower. I tapped the sunflower plant out of its container and observed the white roots snaking along the bottom. At the exact center of the hole, the centipede had curled in a circle like a magic gem, or a tiny guardian waiting for its charge. Finished, watering the plant in, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen. Or maybe it was already done.

Another list of mostly unrelated items

A lost stuffed animal: The smaller of the two faces still flushed with tears, they are pressed and belted into their cramped seats on the airplane. Suddenly they sit still like does. The woman relates their predicament to the flight attendant, who has just arrived.

Eating honey: As it bends the light reflected off the surface underneath, a slick golden tentacle of new honey curls off the larger bulk that has wrapped itself around a spoon.

sock2

A lost sock: Like a┬áhieroglyphic, a tiny child’s sock soaked with rain sits atop a gate post, which serves as an impromptu lost and found. It will be frozen tomorrow morning, and then later will thaw in the sun of the afternoon. Its sole is dotted with white rubber traction spots which, when the sock is worn, would grip the world like squid suction cups.

Altitude: Listen to the racket of a hundred birds, the countless shapes and layers of fallen leaves. A balletic cry in the wilderness. The sharp beaks, wings working to gain precious altitude.

The sun shines. The birds twitter.

Reaching blindly for something else, I accidentally picked up a daddy long legs spider in my garden. Between my thumb and first two fingers it felt like a dry, dead leaf. It was soft, with veining and a little crumpled. After a second or two I put it down, still thinking it was a leaf and was startled to see a spider get up and stagger away. It appeared unharmed, but walked uncertainly as if blind, or as if it was testing the soil of spider heaven.

Starlings

Down from power lines a broad shadow tumbles to the ground. A thousand feathers rustle as the wings of the flock are tucked. On the sidewalk, in the green grass, a hundred spotted throats peck. In the rout moths flash the red undersides of their wings from inside ivory beaks. Curling worms and millipedes clutch the air, moist soil crumbing off their shiny segments. From their places the sudden flock, a wave breaking, swarms up like fallen leaves exploding back onto a tree.

Concert at the Chinese Classical Garden

Yesterday we went to see the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble play at the Portland Chinese Classical Garden and it was very entertaining. I’m a big fan of the Chinese Classical Garden. They have everything a person could want in one place. Fascinating architecture, bonsai, a huge pond with fish, a beautiful garden, and a great tea house in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections (pictured below.)

The Ensemble was very good. They play more “traditional” Chinese music, and also seem to be interested in all kinds of music. They introduced every song with a description of what was to come. The selections varied from a Chinese war epic penned in 202 B.C. to “Oh Suzanna”. I would liken the concert to about any traditional world music mix CD. It will most likely contain things you will enjoy and other things you might not, and different people will find that they like different things. In this case the balance was well over to the “good” side.

They were very earnest and enthusiastic and put on an excellent show. For the record, there are more shows and different bands at the Garden coming up. Check them out here.

Portland Classical Chinese Garden Teahouse

(I remember at the Montgomery Station in San Francisco there used to be an old Chinese man who would play his erhu for change. An erhu could probably best be described as a kind of Chinese violin. I used to stop and listen to him every once in a while. He didn’t seem to follow any rhythm and actually sounded very much like a howling cat, but sad. To me, at best, it evoked Chinese calligraphy, with lots of purposeful bold strokes, hooks, and finesse. But it sounded awful. I always suspected that I lacked the cultural experience or vocabulary to appreciate what he was up to with that instrument. Either that or he was really bad. It’s funny but I used to be shy about listening to him and would always stand somewhere he couldn’t see me listening.)