Intimate With the Dust
Last week S ran to me with an injured toad. Its foot was bleeding. He handed the toad to me and I found a safe place in the garden where it could rest and recover. Then a few days ago he appeared on the patio, its foot healed.
I was walking by. He was sitting there.
It was full morning, so the heat was heavy on his sand-colored
head and his webbed feet. I squatted beside him, at the edge
of the path. He didn’t move.
I began to talk. I talked about summer, and about time. The
pleasures of eating, the terrors of the night. About this cup
we call a life. About happiness. And how good it feels, the
heat of the sun between the shoulder blades.
He looked neither up nor down, which didn’t necessarily
mean he was either afraid or asleep. I felt his energy, stored
under his tongue perhaps, and behind his bulging eyes.
I talked about how the world seems to me, five feet tall, the
blue sky all around my head. I said, I wondered how it seemed
to him, down there, intimate with the dust.
He might have been Buddha— did not move, blink, or frown,
not a tear fell from those gold-rimmed eyes as the refined
anguish of language passed over him.
— Mary Oliver, “Toad”