The colours turn to gray that evening, as the sun melts away beneath the horizon. I miss the orange tinge it has upon my skin moments ago. I miss the smell of the grass while it was warm. I miss the birds calling to each other to come home. I miss everything there is to miss when you have been waiting for the night.
I walk the short pier and try to see beneath the waters. This rippling mirror is so rightly creating an image of how I feel inside. My turmoil is not too abrupt, just a subtle disturbance in my pleasant surface. I take my time to savour my alone. I take my time to feel the wind making fun of me, taunting me coldly. I take my time listening to the rustling of the trees as they whisper about my pathetic figure, low and alone, beneath their gaze. I take my time to see the stars blink in blatant astonishment at my unfortunate story.
And then they change their tune, ever so effortless, as if they’ve been singing in the same note all the while. I hear them say my prayers for me. I hear them caress my heart as if their own babe is hurt. I hear them come near to me, make me feel fine, make me feel whole, as if this gaping wound I carry so hidden beneath my smile is no longer bleeding but is a mere scar I tell stories about at night.
There is a sunken boat waiting by the river bank. There it stays until I feel it is safe to sit in the hole-ridden seat, take up its rotten oar and slowly make my way elsewhere. I am afraid of my journey. I am afraid of the unknown waters, unfriendly constellations and unfamiliar clouds. I breathe in the wet air of this place I like to pretend is home.
The pier I stay on is a polite goodbye to my reluctant body. I look across at the garden. I see the dark heavy trees, saddened by grief. I see the fireflies peeping in and out of the vines, like light signals to a missing person, calling them home. I see the brooding shadows that slowly envelopes the place, a shadow containing memories of sunlit merriment, memories I don’t belong to but wish I did.
I’ve walked that garden a short while ago. I tried to make the flowers grow, where the buds have withered away. I tried to push the branches of the trees to strike a pose that is familiar, like a smile across a beloved face but they deny my touch. I caught those fireflies in my hands and reached out to let them go again but they grew confused and scared and remained still yet lit in my palms. I traced the name upon the tree in the heart of the garden and wish it was mine. I traced the name as if I traced a scar and I feel a familiar pain in my own heart, as if a kindred feeling is calling out.
The garden I love. The garden I have always rowed by again and again, never brave enough to set foot upon, always circling the ones beside but never entering this wonder. I’ve worn my boat down because of you. I’ve rotten my dress as I stand in the waters, catching up courage to climb those cold stone steps to you. I’ve sunk my boat and left myself trapped on your pier.
I stand up and look past the river bank and see the boat. Maybe tomorrow I’ll patch it up. Maybe, if she comes, I’ll leave as fast as I can row away. I can still remember how the grass stayed brown under my feet, the flowers did not smell sweet for my nose and the leaves crumbled under my touch. I know I don’t belong. I know I am not the one with the burning touch, the fingers that etched the name upon the heart-tree, the fingers that made the fireflies burn brighter or the flowers bloom prettier, or that let the branches wave elegantly, or make the leaves whisper names.
But here I sit on the pier, let my legs dangle over the edge, my back to the garden, my sight on the horizon. I can’t leave yet. I won’t leave this garden alone. Not as it pines quietly for the goddess that walked its path. I will not let the trees die, although I will not be able to make it grow strong. I will not let the buds recede, although I will not be able to make the spring come. I will not let the fireflies stop their busy dance, although I will not be able to understand their movements.
I shall be the unwanted gardener in this untended beauty. I shall wait as it waits for the goddess that walked the path, the name that burned the heart, the voice that thrilled the flowers and the smile that lit the sky.
Until she comes, my love is the only tenderness I can offer.
The moon is up tonight. It is smiling at my braveness. I smile back at how wise he is. He shines on my boat, like a soft invitation to save myself from uncertainty, save myself from unwanted conditions. I sit and talk to the moon. I let him know his garden is in good hands until the sun rises again. Until the sun rises, I shall always be here on this pier, scarred but smiling, hopeful without magic.
So here I am in this gray world, waiting for the sunrise with the moon.