The other night, I was walking with my dog in the park, she was ahead, sniffing here, peeing there, while I ambled along. It was a somewhat clear night, with not much of a moon looking down on us. To my right, across from the now darkened pond with the ducks asleep, I heard a cricket’s song – a song I’d not heard for some time now, though I had heard it many times in that park in seasons past. Crickets have always interested me, from when I was a young boy in Bombay, listening to them chirping outside my bedroom window on many a darkened night, their songs keeping me company as I looked out at the sky and stars from my bed. I stopped to see where the song was coming from. I peered into the dewy leaves and twigs on the damp earth in the park, by an old tree whose birds, squirrels and raccoons were now hidden. The cricket too did not want to be seen. The singing continued, and as I kept looking, I saw a stirring beneath a leaf, a very slow turn of a brownish green leaf below the street lamp, a slow rustling, and the leaf moved just enough for me to notice, and then the movement stopped. At the near end of the leaf, I saw something move, an earthworm gliding along very slowly, taking its time, moving the leaf just a little bit as it made its way forward. A few feet away, I heard and then saw another rustling, another leaf moving, maybe it was another earthworm, but this one I could not see – all I saw was the leaf turn silently in the night, the slightest roll, and then it fell, like the last breath of a moment that was gone as soon as I noticed it.
In the stillness, I once again became aware of the cricket’s song and saw I was no longer looking for it. It had called me to listen, and watch the play unfold, its fellow dwellers, the earthworms, the leaves, the old tree with its now silent residents, an unseen musician heralding a quiet opera, stopping time and its rapid, unceasing pace just long enough that night.
A few breaths later, I stood up, saw my dog a few feet away, waiting for me. I left my friends the cricket and the earthworms, the leaves and twigs, and their stage, carrying their music and dance in my heart.
© 2012 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved.