Palo Santo

The only thing that exists is the present moment.

And the smell of Palo Santo wood.

She inhales and is filled with the holy essence lingering in her daughter’s hair, a million strands of soft golden sunlight halo a life.

Impossibly long limbs for a human that to her will always be her baby wrap around her body. She feels the well known tapping of a tiny hand on her back. A hand that will create and destroy over and over. Tap….tap...tap, tap...tap…..tap. The rhythm always changing, always staying the same.

She wonders who is being soothed more.

She feels warm, wet breath on her neck as the small one snuggles closer. Breath that will hold itself in rapture, as often as fear in the span of a lifetime. Breath that will ebb and flow until it doesn’t.

She feels heat from this small body merging with her own. Their temperatures finding a shared meeting place of mutuality. The little body squeezes tighter with vicious love. For a moment she imagines they share a body again.

She feels the expansion of her womb, skin stretching and reshaping to house creation. She feels the invisible cords of connection of all life manifest, made real, tethered to the innocent one inside.

She searches her mind for a memory of what it was like, before becoming Identified.

Nothing is revealed.

She exhales and whispers, “I love you, baby.”

The little one replies, “I love you, mama.” The singular magic in the melody of this voice fills her with fierce longing for all that already is. She feels her heart try to hold onto that magic, knowing that this too will go away.

The bell rings. She puts her daughter down and says, “See you after school.”

Her daughter turns around and waves, smiling with her whole body. Eyes electric and apprehensive, she walks away with confident uncertainty.

She worries. Her mind spins. She catches its tail with a full breath, back to Now, this moment.

This is her quest now, she reminds herself.

She braces herself to stand and feels a new familiar ache in her low back. She hears the soundtrack of joints popping as she stands. This body is aging. This body will die. The finality hits her. A fierce gut punch of grace and gratitude.

She imagines Being without a body and remembers Being in the Mother’s womb, tethered to existence in every and no form. Dispersed and coalesced into all of creation.

NO-thing is revealed.

She sees the world with fresh eyes, again.

Her phone chimes. The text reads: “can you pick up some eggs today?”

I watch her reply, then make a note on an old receipt, most likely adding BUY EGGS to whatever to-do list she’s recently compiled. I watch her walk away, birthing a new moment with every breath.

Everything exists in every moment, including the smell of Palo Santo wood.

EssaysKim SmithKim Smith