Sunday, April 4

dominica in palmis

When I came upstairs, Jae was watching The Ten Commandments on ABC - an unexpected reminder that it's Palm Sunday. Thus the guy walking down the sidewalk with a palm branch in one hand, earlier. And maybe a connection to the beautiful weather and the two skunks, one large and brightly striped, the other small and dingy, wandering dazed across the fields where we play frisbee. Like a character in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, the consistency I demand from my universe is not always logical.

Years and years ago, on one of the Palm Sundays we spent in Kansas, the Culver United Methodist Church gave out crosses made from dried palm leaves. They were six or seven inches tall and the color of dried grass. When we got back to my Grandma's house, I put a piece of magnetic tape on the back of my cross and stuck it to the refrigerator.

When we cleaned out her apartment just after this Christmas, the palm cross magnet had migrated to the door of the deep freeze. Otherwise it was the same. Still a small shock of recognition - I put that there. It was like a thousand other things in the world that had been her home. Random pieces of junk and irreplaceable antiques alike had all become layered and weighted with memory.

Sometimes I wonder about all of the tokens and totems we surround ourselves with, the little signifiers. I have piles of ticket stubs, half a dozen paperweights, a jar of bottle caps, dozens of coins, three busted watches. This wooden animal came from Bolivia, that rock is from a gravel road in Iowa, I picked up the stick on a mountain near Taos. They're like the physical embodiments of a vocabulary in some private language. Little chunks of memory and sympathetic magic.

I imagine this an impulse older than the human race. Even before beads on leather strings there must have been colorful rocks, bits of bone and wood.