Bad things are going to happen. Your tomatoes will grow a fungus and your cat will get run over. Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream melting in the car and throw your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling out of her blouse. Or your wife will remember she’s a lesbian and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat– the one you never really liked–will contract a disease that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth every four hours. Your parents will die.
No matter how many vitamins you take, how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys, your hair and your memory. If your daughter doesn’t plug her heart into every live socket she passes, you’ll come home to find your son has emptied the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb, and called the used appliance store for a pick up–drug money.
There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger. When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine and climbs half way down. But there’s also a tiger below. And two mice–one white, one black–scurry out and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice. She looks up, down, at the mice. Then she eats the strawberry.
So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat, slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely. Oh taste how sweet and tart the red juice is, how the tiny seeds crunch between your teeth.
Relax, from Like a Beggar, by Ellen Bass