I. There is nothing now, just hot dust and an unblinking Sun and whatever can be found in caves or under the ground, and this old woman sitting in a tent made of old winter coats and scraps of blankets (from the days when the earth was sometimes cold and when there was something called Evening with a smooth, cool Moon).
The only time she stirs is for a drink or a meal consumed from the palm of her hand, and the only time she speaks is for a daughter or son, the Only Children Left Now, come out from distant clefts, dusty, hot scars across the Earth’s broken face.
They come to her, red and thirsty, searching the old woman’s eyes and begging with their own-- for a drink?
And these who come to her don’t even speak.
The old woman stretches out her brown, parched hand and receives their gifts, small pouches of precious water, and pieces of bread and fish, lays the parcels aside then touches each one with the same hand.
This is what Those Who Are Left come for, her hand, her eyes, blessings.
II. There is one at her knees now, the precious parcels are received into her lap, her eyes are closed.
Minutes, maybe hours pass in silence.
Finally, the old woman smiles slightly; because she is kind? -- yes -- but also because The Touch and The Words they have been waiting for are now filling her up like warmed honey.
Her eyes open, bright and blue.
The old woman reaches out again, once for the parcels, to set them aside, now to touch This One Who Is Left, a young daughter of someone in some lonely cleft.
She touches this daughter’s hair, following the golden, crisp strands down to her arm, then to her hand, which the old woman suddenly, but gently grasps with both her own hands, nestling it within them.
The Touch, The Word is here, and the sign, as always, is tears, first hers and then the daughter’s, who now closes her eyes.
The dust and rippling heat are forgotten and they are both walking together in The Garden.
The angel has blown out his flaming blade and the two enter in at the familiar gate, hand in hand, tender mists quenching their parched skin.
They walk together through the sparkling gardens, picking fruit for one another, eating their fill, and then they dip into a crystal spring under a congregation of quiet trees.
As they come to the surface, they hear Him walking through The Garden in the cool air -- there’s no longer a reason to hide here.
A peaceful breeze passes through the trees and through the two of them, and then He is there on the shore, His Spirit, His Words, filling them until they can contain no more, and then He fills them again until they overflow.
“Take all this with you and share it with Those Who Are Left; I will bless whatever you give and you will gather then more than you will leave with today; And I promise, the day will come when you will never leave here again, but will be forever with Me where I am.”
III. The old woman is sitting in her tent alone now, and after a very long while she reaches for one of her precious parcels kept in tattered baskets to her left and to her right.
There are many baskets; She drinks from one pouch, then from another she gathers bits of bread and fish into the palm of her hand; She closes her eyes and dreams about The Garden and The One Who Loves Her, and about His Words --
waiting for another son or daughter, red and thirsty, come to sit at her knees.
I'm trying to think of nothing, out here mowing our waving lawn; been thinking so much lately, it hurts and burns, over and over;
but I'm thinking of you anyway;
and then I think about how wonderful it would be to be peaceful and clean, like when the nurse first brought you to me, all scrubbed and red, swathed in that blue-white-and-pink hospital blanket;
I gazed at you, unwrapping you slowly, like I did when I came to my last Christmas present under the tree when I was a little girl;
I hummed lullabyes to both of us, and so many promises were made, so many about peace;
I don't want to think; I'm trying to drown out our yelling, let this damned lawnmower get louder and louder, but I heard your words, and the hot barbs sting over and over;
I'm sunburnt out here, sweat is stinging my eyes; that's when I spy the wild blackberries and shut off the mower;
All I could think of then were those sweet, plump blackberries covered in cream and sugar for you, and I pictured them in a certain white porcelain bowl for you; I didn't care about the thorns and the raging ants every time I reached for one;
I just wanted to bring you this bowl of wild blackberries, so I picked the plumpest, and hummed all the while.
This love, this honey love, this sweet sap coursing through my heart, through every throbbing tendril of every trembling extremity;
I can't, I can't breathe when you kiss me, when you look at me, when you hold me you hold my very life;
… and when I search your eyes, when you are busy searching me and all my enflamed extremities, I wonder if you even see how I'm dangling over this precipice the closest I've ever been to death, by ecstasy.