Jagged edges, it rests on its side, rising from the table like a hill—or, if you allow, a jebel, which is a hill in Northern Africa; and, like an actual jebel, is the color of sand, just like the jebels we saw when we lived in Egypt and we left the city, smoky from burning garbage. And in the desert, hills of sand as far as sight permits. Jebels.
Just this morning the rock was on the Terry Hershey Bike and Walking Trail. Now it’s here, on the table. Plucked up by me, and me looking at it, telling myself that a good writer can make any ole thing interesting, and accepting the challenge.
Almost a triangle, this rock. Asymmetrical, rough, representing rocks throughout the world. Wind abraded; water cut, left scars; grinding and knocking against its brothers, becoming smaller and smaller until it’s the perfect size and the perfect shape to become wedged deep between the tender pads of a collie’s foot. The dog limps, stops to dig with teeth at the sharp pain. “Here, let me,” says his best friend, a man whose belly is big. Out here walking because he’s been told to exercise, to lose weight if he wants to live! Bending, he frees the rock, tosses it, and it comes to a stop in a fissure, insignificant to the man’s foot, but to the rock, a major split in the surface of the earth, a crevice created by flowing water, flowing from high to low, from jebel to wadi, like all water at one time or another, and now the rock is part of its topography, a boulder in this mini-canyon.
Until a woman trips and sends it flying. The woman bald on account of chemo. Scarf wrapped, colorful head, and when she falls she hurts, more than a healthy person would hurt. She’s weak and sits there, blood running from the gash on her knee, down her shin. “Oh, ow,” she says. “Poor leg. Poor me.” But, tenacious like an action hero, she gets feet under and rises, skinny and gray like a worm. Did the rock trip her? No. Her toes don’t grip. Feet without flex. Ankles stiff. She hobbles away, looking for morning joy.
Flung from its gully-bed by cancer woman. Then nanny with stroller. Rolled-along toddler, golden hair, sings La-la-la. Illegal, the nanny, paid way less than a legal one, which would be very expensive indeed for the toddler’s family, sales couple at Toyota, but low on the chain. Heavy-footed, she pushes, wheels crunching. Also chews gum. Her mother not well in Chihuahua. Brother disappeared last year. Gone where? Cousin’s husband hits with fists. Nanny prays for these. Toddler sings La-la-la. Nanny doesn’t pray for toddler, who will do well without alien prayers.
Stroller wheel catches rock at angle, skips it off path, into grass. Two years before city mower shoots it back to path with RRRR—whoop whoop whoop! And woman who misses husband and dog in Singapore, bends, plucks it up with stubby fingers, and shows an unexpected interest.