as if it didn’t matter at all, laughing at the kitchen counter, severing sinew from bone, making dinner, sacrifice of living things to the hunger. i never knew him such a callous cannibal until i watched as he cheerfully cut that piece of meat, all that was left of what once was a wild and tender thing.
i closed my eyes, ducked my head. bit back the scream and waited for the image to pass. i wandered like that for some time; blind and stumbling and happy to be so if it meant i would not again see such gleeful butchery.
i did not ask after him. but occasionally, flashes of insight would arrive from odd places. a friend of a friend of a friend, and things like ‘oh yeah, i forgot to tell you…. ‘ and, the sliver of bamboo innocently given, i would grit my teeth and sit very still so they might not know how it hurt.
some discoveries were more odd. like the one wherein a random friend from a random place sent me a link to ‘good source’ and thus, i found the pictures made on the day that i was the meat on his counter, being cut and severed. such a careful lens, such gentle light, and the memory of raw meat or care for the cutting little more than a drowsy belch somewhere in the doing… all things sent now ingested… digested and long ago sent to the sewers.
i have a bamboo garden; made from all those tender slivers given and forgotten.
i did not forget.
i dug a well here, in the center of this place. reaching deep waters, coaxing them to surface, laying all the stones pitched from distance into gentler form. the old, driftwood housing sits in shabby strength atop the well wall, the rough edges of the log ’round which the rope is twined meet the willow wood handle and the old, blue bucket sits upon the wall until needed.
i pulled them, all the bamboo slivers; drawing them slowly from under my fingernails, i set them in the waters and nourished them, forgiving the pink waters and adding my own to them until they were once more clear, clean, and pure.
a quiet tending, making use of that ‘good source’… strips of celluloid linen from which softer, kinder things are made. wrapping the slivers in them, i gave them to myself until i didn’t need them anymore, until i could look at them and smile for the thought of long walks and the stillness that precedes shutterbug smiles.
it is a lush, green place, the bamboo garden. i walk there sometimes, in the wee hours before sunrise, touch the swaying stalks and whispering care. it has become a place of soft enjoyments for me; a place where green, growing things throng and memories of slivers and blood are transformed.
i found a small board from the meditation house hiding in the back of the rusty red truck. i do not know how it got there. the board, splintered on one side from being wrenched out of place, is still serviceable. the smooth top retaines the symbols and writing of it’s initial purpose. the flowing script is undamaged and reads:
“bkrus chil chi’, mkhyen brtse nus pa’i ye shes, kun tu gso ba.”
it means “cleansing flowing water, the wisdom that is insightful, healer of all.”
i set it as a nameplate upon the well in the middle of the bamboo garden. it seemed the right thing to do.