Friday, March 10, 2006

A Walk Without Hats

A Walk Without Hats

Today we walked out without hats into a warm breeze, up hills, around corners and past a small playground where nobody was. A beautiful woman with broken teeth said her eight-year-old daughter had been shot, with a gun, in daycare. She had received a call from the hospital. She stopped us on the sidewalk; pronounced my baby beautiful. I had not read about it in the Post.

The Rock Creek Church cemetery is charming. The one for soldiers across the street is soul crushing, with its regiments of white crosses and stars. We wandered past the church, past gatherings of monuments, past a white truck surrounded by workmen and absurdly outfitted with a snowplow.

We came to a sort-of ornamental retention pond full of broken reeds and winter's refuse. Beside it was a low, rounded stone under which one Josiah Neuman Perry had lain now eighty-five years and death, it was written, had no more dominion over him. The same might not be said of his father, Rev. Josiah Bedon Perry, D.D., Rector of St. Andrews for 23 years, whose dominion over him was evident in the cool shadow of a looming monument. I sat on Josiah Neuman's marker and adjusted the buckle of my shoe, adjusted my sleeping baby, and looked out over the reed-choked pond. I wondered what diminutive name Josiah Neuman must have endured from his mother, Frances, to distinguish him from Father Perry.

Among the bread bags and leaf litter in the pond there was a flash of orange, then another and another. The pond was alive with carp of every color--orange, white, black, mottled, hundreds and hundreds. Many more than any sensible person would have stocked. I had to guess that these were generation upon generation of fish, surely as many as that little bit of water could sustain. I looked at my Nuria, with her mouth open in sleep and her grandmothers' names, and laughed at how life just kind of goes on like that. We threaded our way down the little lane, through the graves, out through an open iron gate and onto our street. The sun shone pink through her tiny ears all the way home.

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