I am a ditch. I live in the ground. When the water flows
through me it washes along my sides with a familiar
tingling that I have felt every day for the past
one hundred years. I feel it now as I see you walking.
I see your ankles and when I see your ankles a sadness
leaps out of me. I gaze upward to the top of your heads,
those heads that are sometimes bald, heads with the sun reflected
on the bare skin of a skull. Sometimes you are young with great
oceans of unfurled hair dancing on your shoulders as
you pass. Sometimes I see a gray hat turned to one side and
you are singing. But I am silent. I am listening.
I have heard you for years walking beside me. I have seen
the two of you pause and whisper and kiss. The afternoon is late.
It will soon be evening, and you are still here sitting in the grass.
I know you are hopeful. I have heard you say so. I know you
are worried about the passing of your life into the dull shadows
of tall trees, and I wonder, what is it like to be a human?
Sometimes you sit down on the grass, and you look at me.
“This ditch will outlive me,” you say. “This ditch will still be here in this
valley when my beautiful body is dust.” I am silent
when you speak, sitting alone beside me. And, I wonder,
where does this loss come from, where does this joy come from?
But I am a ditch. I have no fear. The water flowing through me
is a song of remembrance. Every moment of my life I have
heard the trickle of these small singing voices. They move through me now,
all night and all day and when the rain falls and I am full, I feel
I am becoming. The water is my blood. What is your blood?
What is the mystery of your red blood? What is this empire of longing?
What do you feel moving through you? Do you know where it comes from?
Do you know the beginning of rain?
CM Brown is a poet, visual artist, an integral yoga and meditation instructor, and counselor who lives in Louisville.