Not Far From Maplewood

There were those trees in your backyard
Wild cedar growing in the gully
Near your woodshed basking in decrepit beauty
Situated above as if being the river’s shepherd

After we discovered that tea
Was literally just plants and hot water

Those cedar trees glowed silky
Smooth a hypnotic amber- such honey slipped
So efficiently down our throats coated
Our intestines and every breath
We spoke

The colour of those years
Between ten and seventeen
Was cedar’s milk

Crafting bows from broken boughs,
Using those freshest of buds as crow’s
Nest, survey flood basin’s reign
Blueprints written in sand script
Loamy soil serving as scroll,
We would attack at noon
And be back before dinner,

Then football season came
And those trees illuminated
In Autumn’s adolescent snow
Caught more passes than your father did

And every Spring
When those rusty red braids of hair
Caught fire releasing forth a flurry
Of gold we’d stand in awe,
Wondering where their children would land
And if we’d ever
Get the chance to meet them

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Where The Light Shines

It’s the weekend, Friday forever and again. Commemorations are cut into cedar logs; between branches children run from front porch to aching maple. A vision kept close a memory once experienced now is in the process of being created. Fleeting from nest buried amongst a web of rafters, birds sing above our heads heard faintly beyond mechanical repetition, scrag engine roaring fervently from forest to moment trees dissipate and in their place is a heart and home. The birds sing-still persistently heeding no recognition to intrusive noise- songs lathered in shades of purple and braids of love- tea whistling on woodstove mixed with coffee roasted to full city in contrast of the wilderness looming just outside the entryway. Porcelain basking on windowsill wisps of steam floating; remaining motionless for a second then evanescing. It’s ready, beckoning.

It’s 8:30, determined by the streaks of vermilion glistening through a receding doe corridor. By noon, an hour prior, the last tooth would have taken its last bite for the day and we will begin bathing in the warm rivers of laughter. It’s 9 currently though- first break, the only for today. A jittery fawn shuffles between piles of fascia jumping over vague gravel roads between bundles stacked like jenga minarets into the ditches before appearing again just around a corner. Coy yet curious, walking to the mechanic’s garage for breakfast, strange fur colour catching its attention, following seemingly close yet asunder, my shadow has competition, for a little while at least. The door opens unwillingly almost stumbling, moth-eaten, the passenger chair from a Chevrolet Silverado catches me almost purposely. The fridge is opened, revealing amongst two peanut butter sandwiches, half-a half-a dozen bottles of Ketel One, a stale bag of roasted garlic bagel crisps and approximately fifteen hand-rolled cigarettes. The room is cozy if defined by size and stubborn decision to not rot. Space is scarce, flat back against the wall as if to walk along the precipice of a mountain. A picnic table born of monolithic pine occupies center, lack of capacity fails to impede rapid ebullient fables. Talking lambent with tones of joy, five episodes of Seinfeld and Friends is bolstered into nine seasons fully reenacted, an entire cast played by six lumberjacks.

Thirty minutes, a rest worth a lifetime falls through animated reconciliation and soon enough the engines are roaring again. Two hours turns into a victory lap. Narrowly dodging thunderstorm of foliage, we chuckle. Later recounting the near death experience as if we’d been exiled, left to build again our own society from scratch. The volcano erupts spontaneously, violently an avalanche crashes toward what little progress has been made. Silence follows, a hand is seen, reaching up from a small desecrated hut, another appears then another, the bodies attached slowly become visible. Stubborn survivors who defied isolation and Mother Nature is how the tale will be told. The mess is cleaned up, logs loaded back onto the dock, blades re-calibrated, a few details ironed out, some key points cleaned up, feathers in line, the alarm goes off. The weekend is here, we meet in Maplewood.
It begins with music, subtle songs of crickets and warblers in the morning we whistle in tune in attempt to capture the tenderness of being feral. Fluctuating with cyclic evolution the melody transcends scene a new movement orchestrated by the guidance of memory and reverie. A single note held from this symphony whispers of unrelenting presence. The crescendo soars at first rest, crashing into reiterations of timeless rendition, the body is a pit for the theatre of Earth.

Pattern gives way to tradition, at 11 pine violins and raven trumpets ease into caesura, feet trace familiar path to truck, heard faintly between door and hallway, “Sultans of Swing” is sung softly. Driving home a moment of bliss is held in a deep breath, close enough to see the familiar neon faces of recognizable wildlife, far enough away to get lost in an amiable world playing hawk-dove with theory and knowledge. Drifting routine alone at high-noon pacing hot water sanctuary, garments exchanged for expression. A slice-pair of toast is burned to crisp taken a second to cherish- the simplicity of being so early in the day, often times taken for granted is the essence that built these bones. A text message is sent on the feathers of local pigeons. Feet crossed standing up facing the window overlooking austere terrace, a colony of sunflowers watches over the garden whose abundance is annexing the woodshed and dog pen. Returned minutes later metal band clinking against porch sill, to take my time is all that is requested.
Animals breathe for fuel, plants breathe for fuel, all living things breathe for fuel. This is without fault for every second the creature remains alive. One of the more notable qualities of humankind is the ability to take something that is intrinsically archaic and fierce and make it rest at our heels. Breathing, an absolute necessity to living has lost its control over us. Humanity rarely breathes for fuel, for survival. Humanity breathes for happiness, grief, to form relationships, to send nations to war, breathing has become a part of language. On the drive to Maplewood, I breathe for Arcadia.

The cabin smells of bitter coffee and wildfires, a knock isn’t necessary but it’s best to build a second’s worth of anticipation. A rhythm not broken for years the inhabitants understand that these things are absolute and essential-the knock, three light taps, two are heard faint as a fire crack, the last is given to nature for her to make. The door opens, lunch is well on it’s way through the digestive tract. The coffee strong as ever is only just starting to fertilize the soft whimper of wind outside- the sun burns perfectly crystalline. Greeted with piano teeth and an apology “It’s basically water today”. A rest may be needed. As now the river, a tumble weed away, runs black as it runs red with iron ore.

Perched on cobblestone wall a calligraphic sky dances with vermiculate figurines; at once like falling leaves shadow puppets, against a backdrop of cedar vistas, scrawl cursive portraits like pointillistic novels. Here, we are dew drops embracing shaded blades of grass.

Thrown as if apple cores to the forest, rest takes form in tracing corridors of birch and pine. Taking note of deer paths, serenity is found in beaver tracks. Rolling lopsided from clearing to clearing we stumble upon a bird’s nest resting in a willow tree. A timid glimpse offers the beauty of newborn life. There’s a stretch about a mile south that leads to a decrepit concrete foundation, where colored glass peeks weakly above verdant moss beds. A remnant of logging’s past, it’s said if the wind blows right on a cold Autumn night one can hear the steady chug of a steel axe cutting relentlessly at a defiant weald. Lost in the world before, a steady breeze carries us back to the cabin. In celebration of simplicity, to living together with nature, the evening is set and the fire is started.

Babbling a brook away the branches join in harmony to the trickling of water flowing so steadily. An occasional splash, kaleidoscopes flicker, fish gallop seemingly aware and seeking invitation. The pot has been drained two or three times, each increasing in strength from water to wine Friday ends enveloped in amethyst. South of the river we stop and holding everything, as if it was actually ours alone, today and tonight, forever and again. A joke is spoken, laughter finds wings to fly slipping up our throats the motion soothes cracked lips placing perspective on the monument like an aerial view of an eagle soaring over the Grand Canyon. Speech is reserved for the flame, gathered in storm debris formation we wait for the eulogy, breathing delicately and in rhythm.