Facing Down the Apocalypse I: Unfolding
Until now I haven’t written a damn thing. Creative impulse looks, sounds, and smells like doing hard time with a chainsaw and a hydraulic wood splitter. My wife has been a good sport. She knows my first line of defense against angst is motion. Life on the edge of my known world calls for constant motion.
usNow she and our daughter have returned to town, leaving in their wake a heap of amber firewood in the driveway of the Johnny Gunter place and a cold wind circling my solitude on the front porch. Big firs on the ridge speak the language of wind, perhaps the language of loss. Their progeny were casualties of last year’s snowstorm and are heaped and tarped in the driveway. They will heat our house next winter.
Folks have told me I should be writing. I’m not sure what they mean by “should” or “writing.” If thumb-typing a post with hands chilled in the icy breeze of a retreating storm qualifies, then here I am. One of the few remaining articles of faith I hang onto is that our words lie within us. In this gathering covid storm, I have blockaded their emergence. Maybe this barricade stems from a feeling that my words need some larger unfolding, as in a trillium unfolding, a Calypso orchid unfolding. Maybe the verge of apocalypse calls for a change in perspective, a gathering of voices, in the way that chorus frogs buzz from the marshy valley floor, spurred by longer angles of light and early spring rain to seek one another out, calling in the certainty that life will continue beyond the edge of the world as humans know it.
I’m calling, too: for wider arms, inspiration, a broader reach, words to ensure that end times are only changing times. Words are what I do. But right now I’m not sure how those words should look or sound. So far they seem to have come forth in a way that resembles cutting and stacking wood for next winter. Maybe that’s enough. I just need to get out of their way.
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Last evening I dropped a tree over the edge of the world as I know it. The Douglas-fir died in exactly the spot I directed, sent there with a chainsaw and hand-winch. I am not an expert feller of trees, although decades ago I did make my living dropping lodgepole pine around what then were million-dollar homes.
On the front porch of the Johnny Gunter place, I ride the incoming swell of nightfall. The last logging rigs rumbled out of the valley two hours ago. A single robin chirrups from the meadow growing April green before me. Wind from the west draws an iron overcast across the evening sky.
There sure is a lot of sex at the end of the world as I thought I knew it. After a socially distant run on the chip trail, I finish with a sweaty stroll through the neighborhood park, pausing on a footbridge across the small creek. The air has become a breathing thing, ribs of willow and cottonwood exhaling …