I don't know why I'm taking so much time to describe a piece of cement.
It was a long walkway that was about eight to ten feet wide and more or less two feet thick. The cement had the appearance of being waxed to a kind of satiny shininess, and even in warm weather it stayed cool and pleasant sitting along its edge at lunchtime. A series of reddish-brown, vertical steel poles embedded in its edge, rose up every five or six feet or so to support a hand railing of similar metal tubing that continued on along the entire length of the walkway. Though nicely shaded by the classrooms that arose from the other edge of the walkway, only a small few of us preferred this spot to the sunshine of the more comfortable wooden benches where most everyone else ate their sandwiches.
I was only eight, perhaps nine at the most, and extremely shy around girls, especially the ones I felt attracted to. Yet there was a lovely girl who, almost every day, chose to sit near me on that cold cement at lunchtime even though there were many other more popular places that would have welcomed her presence. I was stunned, over and over, by the way she looked at me, looked into me, with the endless depth and tenderness of her soft, very pale-blue eyes. She rarely spoke but when she did, her speech was more like singing than like talking, so soft and gentle, the melodic lilt of a distant song-bird with a touch of sadness that there was nowhere to go, no one to bring the calm depth of her gentleness to, no one to bestow it upon; yet the pleasure and sureness that permeated her awareness of the purity of her own deep and intricate sensibility was reward enough. I think the little touch of sadness was more for someone else's loss than for her own. Her eyes told me that she could see into my innermost being, that she recognized me as a similar soul; but we never spoke of it. That look nurtured me, kept my somewhat battered spirit alive through many months though I, being an innocent, was somewhat puzzled during the colder days as to why she chose to sit with me on that hard and chilling cement. Perhaps that's why I wanted to describe it to you.
That loving, caring, gentle look, the depth within her eyes, has always stayed with me. It's in my bones, my blood, my flesh. I guess that's what happens when someone reaches the very bottom of your being.
The women in my family were truly fascinating creatures but it was mainly the men who had the tender hearts, the caring patience, the gentle men. And then I ask myself, "When I was a child, were there women like that?" And it is then I think of those soft, luminescent, pale-blue eyes, the tenderest of all, framed by her delicate, translucent, ivory face touched with just the slightest hint of pink, and cascades of jet-black hair streaming over her supple shoulders, and again that look, that glow, that touching recognition, and it is then I know that mankind can share one's deepest moments of connection without the slightest need of a single word.