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i don't march to the beat of a different drummer

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1

Sitting down among the leaves, stacked square, all lined up waiting in plastic to find freedom, he's not sure.

Never has been, never will be, thinking to himself. In fact, sure? What is it? Memory like tape worn thin, makes him nervous to rewind too far too fast...but there was an entry somewhere, no?

Elusive. He fiddles with the plants, the soil, the sun, the air -- anything to keep from the beginning, to keep the leaves stacked, orderly. Unsure. Roots beneath the butt, he's on solid ground, by God, waiting for a sign he knows he's supposed to make. No green flag, no checkered flag, no race, no beginning, no end, 'cept what's in the plastic, preserved. He's alone on this.

2

Leaves have blown him away; he's shirking responsibility in the garden, the other one that's kept tidy and trim. Grows itself, even. Never a seed planted, never a stone turned. Its yield comes up natural and perfect, while nearby plastic hangs torn from a branch.

Not thinking of it. He's in a cheery mood, admiring the timeless cultivation. Never a harvest, never a mouth to feed, never a need whatsoever. He's just gotten over that one. Leaves blow beyond the garden's gate, offering proof. Wanted then, to go to the garden, to drift on the eternal timetable... to do what with what leaves?

Unsure and sure of that, he pauses as the thought draws near, passes. He heard something just then. A few notes? Notes to whom? Notes of what? He hasn't been contacted in some time by such means. No phone calls, no memos, nothing in the mailbox standing yonder, spic span and gleaming. In fact, he recalls once ever, but hazy and far gone he's, ah yes, un sure.

3

Strolling aimfully, ever steadfast in his purpose of continuation, he arrives again at the plastic. Scraps now, stretched thin to torn and swaying fitfully in contrasting breezes. He's reminded... the leaves, the passing of notes... what did he hear once? Phone ringing? His own voice lost in the years as they passed, spread thin and dissipating. So faint, the memory, and what he heard was what he said once. Did it have to be plastic hanging here? Did it have to be so sure?

He snatched the material down from the branch and stuffed it into a rumpled pocket for safe keeping.

What's all this rustle? He opens the gate and steps out, leaving it unlatched and swinging.

4

Leaves stuck in his hair, one clinging to fabric on his shoulder, another stuck between two toes. He's puzzled, breathing slowly, trying to... remember. Something he said? Something he didn't say? He wondered, standing quite still until after what might've been a while, he decided to forget about what was forgotten and move on.

With the next step, again puzzled and wondering again if... well, if he'd taken a step. If he'd decided to forget what was forgotten. Everything so forgotten, he mused, lost, forgotten, and leaving him alone.

Another while found him a step away, though not a step ahead, not a step back. He's absorbed in the leaf he holds before him. This is important, he thinks.

Moved again in a moment, and he's holding up two leaves, wondering. A third joined the two and he's getting closer...

5

The garden again. He's searching, seeking recall of whatever it is, blank lok of his face demonstrating thus far his failure. No leaves in hand now -- just the rows, the garden, the inbetween. Not sure. Some distraction keeps him doubly occupied, ears and eyes involved. Can't separate the two, nor himself from the two, but he's sure of something at last. He must get on with it! He's feeling impulse and response, lost in mind, follows through in perfection, and soon outside the garden, looking in.

He pulls the gate to and leans slightly on it. Looking in, he's standing amid the swirls of occasional leaves, not noticing, not sure. Looking in, he slips his hands in his pock..-- what's that? Plastic shreds come out, into sight, into mind, in his hand and wind doesn't disturb. He's alone on this, eyes ranging over the plastic details, over plastic whole, torn and useless.

It comes back to him slowly, the... what's that? something wrapped in plastic, orderly and straight. He's not sure. Different now, somehow. Plastic in pocket a clue, a key, important.

He shrugs and turns. Looking out he's blown away. More often now he gets the feeling. He sees himself sitting, a memory briefly, though he wonders "a daydream?" Back now here leaves relatively still, wind doesn't disturb. It moves him to stoop. Picks up a leaf. Soon lost in its lines.

6

Reaching the end, he's alone and standing, not sure. Seemed like someone just there, just here; just missed him he thinks. But not sure. Just a feeling. The leaf falls out of hand, lazy falls landing softly, silently. So many more -- he chooses another and is soon lost again.

7

The plastic catches him off guard returning from inspection. He's not sure how it came to be in his hand. He's forgotten already the last leaf as it falls, lazy falls. He's forgotten the gate, the garden, the other than garden... plastic absorbs. He's gone.

Never notices his daydreams, his reveries, his imagined soliloquies. He's unaware when details enclose his senses in their intricate design. He forgets his solid ground, feet stuck to it. He's unsure of just what goes on, of just what he does, of even just what he is. He might as well be plastic he holds, current universal center for his fine-tuned attention. But he's gone, a relief, to be sure.

8

He's back and he's gone to the garden, shut the gate behind him. There's a bench over to the left there, looking from the gate. He sits there now staring, though he's no idea the bench is even there. If asked about a bench, he's surely shrug, probably fending off doubts, convinced he's not sure of any such thing.

Sitting down among the tidy bush rows and paths, he's slipping, tripping, stuck, by God, on a detail or two. It's a first -- his mind roams beyond the garden while his eyes dart back and forth between two blossoms, not seeing, searching. In a second the plastic he holds loosely in one hand will be banished in a sweeping wind and as it tumbleweed rolls across the garden
9
he has it. Certainly one can't be sure, but he's standing with a lively look, gaze reaching into beyond of blown leaves. He winks; he's alone on this and he strides purposefully to the gate. Turning, he surveys the garden. He sees his memory spread smooth over all, sees himself where he was, as he was, sees a flash, a wink.

He turns. Out the gate. Closed. Leaves dance at his feet.

10

Soon he's lost in the leaves again. He knows. Each line now to be read in a different light -- he's remembering the stack, the sack, he's straightening up a bit at this point, aware of what he relives as it passes through in perfection. He's brown, red, orange, yellow, green shining in clear sunlight sky.

There's a plastic bag at his side, filling. When it's time, he'll sit to rest and lay his head on the foliage.

When he falls asleep, he'll dream of a dog, a home with a dog and strange others all around, shiny things, polished things, unrecognizable things they clutch to their chests. No leaves, no garden --

so he awakens again, not sure, sitting up among the leaves, stacked square where he left them, in plastic waiting for freedom.

6-7 Dec 1999

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