The other day I was standing in the park across the street from Pilgrim Chapel, gazing up at the sky through the swaying branches of the large cottonwood tree, when all of a sudden an elf appeared.
Okay, skeptic: What would you think if you were standing alone in a park and there suddenly appeared next to you a small and pointy-eared man with feathery hair, wearing knickers and no shoes, carrying some kind of satchel over his shoulder and a strange orb in his hand? And what would you think when he opens his mouth and says, “Oh, it’s a lovely day for taking in the beauty, eh?” And what would you think when he stands there and tells you the exact age of the tree, and that his witch friends told him everything about this old valley we’re standing in, and he’s a wanderer who hides out among the trees and the homeless and gathers scraps of blank paper from garbage dumpsters so that he can write his poetry, eh?
Twas an elf, I tell you. At least this is how it seemed to me in the unexpected moment, and to bastardize Tolkien: good stories deserve a little elf. His eyes sparkled. The clear plastic orb in his hand had a Jose Cuervo sticker on the outside, but on the inside I could see dozens of paper scraps with words scrawled on them, perhaps his leprechaun-esque makeshift pot of gold, I wondered, but didn’t dare ask, fearful it might break the spell and make him disappear. He couldn’t help but dance right there on the grass as he said, “I honor you for your obvious love of this tree and isn’t it glorious, this world we live in? And hey, can I give you a poem?”
“Well, sure!” I said. You can’t say no to that.
He sat down, reached into his pot of gold, and pulled out a slip of paper. “Oh, yes. Lovely!” he said. “This one will do nicely for you. My witch friends love this one, and you know, I find that wherever I go, there are some places that have strong energy, like there’s a powerful presence right here, and I feel that presence every time I’m in this park, and maybe this tree has something to do with it, you think? Gracious, aren’t we are all just magical beings planted down here, eh?”
He reached into his satchel and pulled out an enormous can, cracked it open, and swigged a full gulp of beer before carrying on with the poem, careful with each word, words that I promised him I wouldn’t repeat. They were a gift just for me, you see. And he zipped up his satchel, slung it back over his shoulder grabbed his can in one hand and the orb in the other, and said, “Well, I have to be on my way, other places to go, but I would like to come back here, yes! Indeed I will return to this place.”
And then he was gone.