Each time I show up to work at Janine’s garden there is a new artifact to contemplate…I guess that word is as good as any. The newest is Buddha’s foot. It is black, about 3 feet long heel to toe, nestled in the mondo grass. I am assuming it’s Buddha’s foot…maybe it’s the foot of Martin Luther King or Beowulf. As such, is it bad karma to step on it? It’s either that or duck under the large wind chimes suspended from a branch over the walkway. I duck each time, just to be sure, and almost always bump the chimes with shoulder or noggin. The deep reverberating sound is a reminder to pay attention, like a gong at a monastery.
Now. Here. Sing,
Isn’t it rich? Isn’t it queer?
I was the only customer in the shop of artifacts In Chaing Mai. A toddler, who had been playing in the corner, watched me as if he was seeing the devil. The women behind the counter, perhaps the boy’s mother and aunt, seemed to share his suspicion, queer, given how warm the Thai generally are. To show what a harmless guy I am, I approached the boy to charm him. Screaming, the boy hurled himself across the room, but fell before reaching his mother’s arms, hitting his head against a round, metal object sitting on the floor, perhaps an incense burner. The object was adorned with studs, and one of them poked into the middle of the boy’s forehead.
In the ensuing clamor, I tried to offer comfort by putting my hand on the wailing boy’s head.
It is taboo to touch someone’s head.
I wonder about that boy. He’s a teenager now. Does he have a mark on his forehead like a vestigial third eye?