A Grass Reed

And here I stand by my grandfather’s graveside. It is a site I have surely known my whole life but to be here is something else, something I have tucked away in the corners of my mind. The others have gone away and I am here to stay because I cannot wrench myself away. I have brought my own car and I am not dead so I don’t think I will be missed.

Wind blows the grass in its gentle sway all around me and I look off at the sky from this small hill, this beautiful plot of land all chock full of boxes filled with bones beneath my feet but now there is just grass and it sways, a soft dance to a silent tune.

Grass is all I can really remember. My grandfather was a kind man, that I can remember too. When one is a child they do not concern themselves too much with aimlessness. Or, they are so wrapped in aimlessness that it takes on it’s own relative directions. Thusly I do not remember the initial proposition my grandfather made to me but instead my confusion at the concept of just “going for a walk.” He was not going on an adventure, there were no pirates hiding in the reeds by this his cottage at which me and my mother, his daughter, stayed. He was and always is my grandfather though so, silently, I accepted.

As the grass does now it did then and will always do, its silent dance among the winds. We walked through a path that is now distorted by memory and therefore then was walls of tall grass with a winding path all throughout it. I always admired my grandfather’s silence and emulate even to this day. I know now that he was a man who drank and yelled often. He was no philanthropist. He was no philosopher. In retrospect this silence takes on a heavy quality. At the time he was simply quiet.

We wound our way through the world for a few moments in the evergreen sunlight of memory. He bent down, suddenly, and picked a thick piece of grass from the trail we walked on, then instructed me to do the same. I followed suit. He took the grass and pressed it against the base and middle knuckles of his left thumb, then manoeuvred his hand so that the knuckled of his right hand were lined up against his left. The result was that the thick grass was stretched taught down the centre of the small gap between his aligned thumbs. I failed a few times. He laughed. Eventually a tentative balance was reached on my end. He raised his clasped hands to his mouth and blew in to the grass. A dastardly honk ripped out in to the silence of the lakeside. I laughed so hard I dropped my grass. When I picked it back up, it found its place between my thumbs easier than before. I blew in to the grass. My note screeched high, breaking itself and the grass. I tried again and got a similar one. He told me to keep trying, for there would never be a shortage of grass.

That was twenty-eight years ago now and I still pluck thick grass with bare white roots from the dirt whenever I can. I have taught it to my children, my wife and friends, and anyone I find myself on a walk through the grass with.

You need not be a philosopher or philanthropist to live far past the body you have been given. You must simply teach something fun to a child.

And so here I am, in the grass by my grandfather’s graveside, a perfect blade lain between the base and middle knuckles of my thumbs. Under the sun and the wind, in the silence of the scattered stones and the bones beneath them, I raise my hands to my lips and let a note rip. It honks out like the ghost of a goose and I cackle, short, lest some unseen viewers assume me insane. It is hardly a twenty-one-gun salute that moves through the shoot but it calls back a time in which I assumed my grandfather would never die, he would forever be the brown and short man who, every time I saw him, laughed and shook my hand so hard that my knuckles cracked. And thus, I leave this grass by my grandfather’s graveside and move on to other grassy fields with their notes not yet sung.

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