That Best Portion

It’s not impossible to be in the city and find yourself in nature. The other day I was taking a stroll through Rosehill cemetery, the largest one in Chicago. It’s six blocks by six blocks wide, meaning when you’re in the center the noise of the city is outside banging ineffectively at the door.

The most notable thing I saw made by man was a tombstone that read,
‘That best portion of a good man’s life
his little nameless unremembered acts
of kindness and of love’.

On the western edge of the cemetery is a small forest. I saw a thin dirt trail leading in and followed it. There appeared a pond. A crane heard me and flew away, heavy and silent. Ducks floated across the pond, trees surrounded it, I sat down. The sun was shining from behind, illuminating half the pond through trees rocking in the wind. Just in front of me a half a dozen catfish lazily swam through their motions, eating fallen leaves off the water’s surface and resembling the logs they playfully swam over. Tiny water spiders hopped across the water’s surface. To them the water was solid ground. The splash of a catfish or the sucking sound of its mouth. Their tails caught in the light turning transparent like the leaves in the trees shaking in the wind, louder and more noticeable now, now that they are dry, and the cicadas are gone.

There’s been talk of selling this section of Rosehill to the city and turning it into a park. That means kids throwing rocks and fishermen. That means more foot traffic and the pond becoming an Attraction. Right now it’s nothing. No signs point to it and nobody knows about it except people like me lucky enough to find it. For now, the catfish can swim thoughtlessly in shallow water.

I sat, my bum on the muddy ground. I saw a beer can and some plastic in the water, thought about the long-term damage they might have, disintegrating in the water, but chose not to remove them for the sake of the pond’s short-term peace. A squirrel noisily ran up the tree next to me carrying a big green nut in its mouth like a watermelon. It climbed up a branch and started chewing. Hunks of seed fell around me, sounding like human footsteps approaching on the ground.

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