On the Periphery
The leaves above are limpid yellow and orange, beech and chestnut distilling the autumn sun into music: golden, rippling arpeggios. In my mind’s ear, my violin dreams a fantasia of light in a major key. Yet when I try to give the notes some meaning, to shape them into emotions, they refuse to acknowledge me. I must live in this moment, revel in this beauty, make my Taoist way that knows no forward and no back, but it is no use. Now in nature I find only cold indifference. The beauty is not mine. It is no one’s. It has no humanity.
Ahead in a clearing a man is standing stock still, gazing into the middle distance. “Bass-ett!” I call out. Somehow it does for hello.
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t hear you,” he says, turning slowly. A slight figure with spiky blond hair, he looks like he might fold flat for storage. I can see him taking in the vivid check on my duffle coat.
“Hi, have you seen a black dog run through here?” I ask.
“No, no I don’t think so.”
“The wood can be enchanting on a day like today, I know.”
“Enchanting! Yeah, I guess so.” He smiles and scratches his neck. I’m an amusement, it would seem. Well, that’s fine. Or he’s embarrassed.
“Do you come here often?” I enjoy clichés.
“I’ve been here once before… A long time ago now.” There’s a glimmer of concern on his face.
“I don’t suppose you could help me look for my dog? He’s been gone a while and I’m getting worried.”
“Okay, yeah, sure.”
We try to walk abreast, but the path narrows, hemmed in by bracken, and we move to an awkward single file. Every so often he stops, looking around, though with no sense of expectation, more a bewildered, distracted air. I wonder if I’ve seen him before.