Sadie is pleased. “It was only eighteen dollars. Don’t you think it looks just like concrete?” I don’t know why looking like concrete would be a virtue, but in any case, no, it doesn’t look like concrete. The gray, pockmarked material doesn’t resemble a thing, though the words “industrial accident” come to mind. The head bulges, the torso sags and either that’s a herniated stomach or a base of some kind.
“I hope you don’t mind if I move it,” I say, and her eyes cloud. Wasn’t the spot she chose perfect?
“No, that’s okay,” she says hesitantly.
“We can always put it back if you don’t like where I put it.” This won’t happen. I’ll make sure of it.
“Okay,” Sadie says and goes back into the house.
I wrap my arms around the Buddha and lift. He is weirdly weightless, like a piece of burnt popcorn. I clutch his topknot and maneuver him. He will not improve with age. No self-respecting moss would ever attach to this material, whatever it is.
I can’t tell Sadie he has to go. It’s her garden after all and I am nothing, if not accommodating. Practically Buddhist, you might say. I’ve found places in the garden for the eighteen aluminum ducks (half-ducks actually, the beaked half), greenish metal Pop-and-Junior reclining frogs, a shallow birdbath, a glazed ceramic snail sprouting mattress vine from its rear, five cherubs, two rectangular Romanesque wall ornaments, even the chipped, rotting plywood cow. (The cow is too much, even for Sadie. She says she’ll get rid of it.)
I plop the Buddha down near the fence where cineraria seedlings have sprouted en masse. Soon, almost before you know it, they will crowd him on all sides, and engulf him. Disturbing as few as possible, I mark his “footprint” with my shovel and begin to dig, hacking away elm roots, down six inches.
Six inches buried, Buddha is still not comely. Another two inches helps but doesn’t help much. Should I go for ten?
Ten it is. I grab his shoulders and nestle him in, and pat the dirt level around him. He smiles that little smile of his.