Sidewalks strewn with the shiny new lives of acorns. Students and faculty and administrators and staff, dogs and deer and rabbits and squirrels wade through the fall tide. We smash or kick or chew or gather; the worst of us pass by without noticing more than an uneven surface that forces a more mindful step. Little time-machines, sweet reassurance against starvation in the hardest of times, I can’t stop myself. My body kneels of its own accord in the damp grass outside the red brick university buildings, kneels at the feet of oaks, and my hand – my wide palm with its short brown fingers – reaches out, scoops up as many as it can hold. I sink them deep into my pocket, already a little embarrassed. I can’t pass them by. Can’t bear this waste. I’m glad they feed the deer, the rabbits, the squirrels. But I think of the people whose land this is, the awful discovery of gathering, cracking, leaching, washing, cooking. Starvation food. I think of my own relatives, raised on another ocean, but coming back to these small dense hearts every Fall because once, they saved us. Once our bones were built with the rich proteins and hardy fat of this harvest. That must be why my body opens up every morning as I walk under these branches heavy with knowledge snug in hard shells. The must be why my body opens up like a hand, like the hands of a nation, traveling through time and rock and prairie and mountain to remind me, remind me: find a way.
- Deborah A. Miranda