momma always calls me country for walking barefoot outside the house | Mea Anderson

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i walk across plush, emerald grass. cool dew and soft earth kiss my calloused feet, and i feel grounded. concrete. i slip on my sandals and continue forward. it’s only 4:30, but the sky is already beginning to turn a hazy pink. and while part of me misses lingering summer evenings, i feel lucky that i don’t have to wait so long anymore for my favorite time of day. i gaze at the clouds made silhouette by the setting sun and try to absorb the sweet stillness around me. i come across a puddle. i love puddles. i especially love the way they reach into the ground and unearth the sky.

my sandals are in my hand again. i can hear the sound of water, unrelenting and also gentle. maternal. nearing the fountain, i welcome sharp pinches of gravel as my toes flick up sand. clouds of dust envelop me and reach toward the sky as though they know her. i teeter on the edge of the fountain before i lower myself into the biting ripples. they wash my feet, and i wonder if this is how it feels to heal. cleansing, necessary, harsh. i am reminded of an old negro spirtual as i stand in the water, and i decide that this is healing. i decide that this is hallowed ground.

it’s dark now. the new navy sky shakes its head, as the last street light flickers on. late, like me. my feet are no longer wet and are no longer bare, so i walk. i find myself under my favorite tree. once, a friend cautioned me to ask permission before plucking leaves from low-hanging branches, and i chuckled. but now i enjoy my conversations with trees who sit low enough for me to greet them. tonight, my leaf is a small one. a quiet ache courses through my shoulders, tickles my spine, and squeezes my calves. my body asks for rest.

inhale. i take a moment to trace constellations and think of the moon, suspended. i think of her and feel with her. understanding that our brilliance is little without the light of our mothers. exhale. i keep moving. green and purple flowers lace like fingers through a chain link fence, and i know i am almost home. i let my leaf drift onto the ground, giving her back to the earth. for the last time, i am barefoot again. i lift myself up the five small steps to my house and leave one home to enter another.

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