Body and Mind
When I was sixteen, I worked at an all-you-can-eat buffet as the roast-beef carver. The restaurant manager taught me how to use a sharpening steel to give my carving knife a razor’s edge. I held the metal rod at an angle and then brought the knife down and across it. The blade sang as it came off. After a few strokes on one side, I would hone the other.
We all lurched forward when Mama braked and the car crunched to a sudden stop midway up our gravel drive. Following her gaze, we stared next door at the crisp green lawn of the Lee family. A wooden sign with red and blue letters hung across their side porch. It read, Welcome Home Walter, with small white stars across the bottom.
I feel when he enters the building. I get out of my chair, stand in the doorway of my office in the English department. He comes around the corner. I put my hands on my hips, like a kid, and call down the hallway, “Hey, you!”
It seemed like a good idea when you saw him on the ledge, poised on the other side of the guardrail and staring down at the water. It was nighttime, or almost nighttime, daylight falling into a tailspin of dusk, and the road was empty, and you nearly didn’t see him at all. But when you did, you slowed your car.
Every morning Granny came to the Center for coffee. She used her wheelchair like a walker, standing behind it and pushing it through Civic Center Plaza and uphill toward the Center, the dog in the seat, stuffed plastic bags bouncing against the chair’s worn wheels. Seeing me, Granny would stop, shake her head, and let out a long breath as if to say, Isn’t this something?