On break between spring semester and summer session
I get a few weeks off and hope to make the rent on unemployment
insurance while full timers head for months in Europe and Nicaragua
but I can walk the dog every morning instead of daily 150 mile commute
on BART trains, sunshine and smell of tanning wheat grass
instead of subterranean sewer. We walk Contra Costa Canal Trail
through Concord suburbs, backyards, downtown blocks, and vacant lots, a thin,
surprising strip of running water, live oaks, pampas grass, and mustard weed.
The dog walks, nose down, yelping now and then at yellow star thistle
in sensitive nostrils, ignoring the bug-eyed movers, the joggers in mirrorshades,
disdaining to hello. We pass a mated pair of mallards paddling softly
up the canal, drake watchful while dam nibbles seeds from overhanging grasses.
Bicyclists slip past like a rush of wind. Some walkers say good morning.
Several nurses in loud pastel scrubs hold hands, shriek, and nearly tumble
down a bank. In a cut below the trail, in the wild creek, a whitetail doe
skippers around the oak trunks grazing unconcerned. She’s about
a hundred feet away, and I pick up the dog, pull him away from
his scent bouquet, show him the deer. He doesn’t care and we start back.
Squirrels cackle in the trees and chase each other like cats.
I notice a bright yellow leaf underwater in the canal, moving against the ripples
like an illusion. And I realize the wind blows the ripples north,
while the water still moves south.