She walks the old road, its surface malleable, as dirt reclaims its path.
Once a smoothness exited, now gone, curves vanishing, the wind, indeterminant.
Her bones feel like prisms, sharp angles, poking out of moving flesh, legs move with assuredness, tenderness.
The road has soft spots, where plants, alive and dead, scar its surface
Not necessarily an easy road to walk by foot. She’s careful. Always.
Her eyes move along its lines, reading its rough syntax, needles, bark, old flowers, wet upon the edges, a dark, moist shadow frames them all.
She places her hands flat upon a remaining level surface
Organic debris, a scree of thoughts stick to her.
She looks at her hands like opening a book
Then looks at the road, she can see the imprint of her hands.
How odd they look, their silhouette, alien.
It’s been a wet August, but it hasn’t really rained, not really.
The fireman walks down to the dock, where the fisherman adjusts his line every few minutes. I see the fireman asking the fisherman questions. The fireman seems concerned, looking towards me as he talks.
You see, I’ve been taking photos of the firehouse, the river, the station’s flag, the freeway, a freeway bridge nestled right above the firehouse. I understand the fireman’s concern.
Also, I’ve been taking photos of the fisherman.
When I was taking pictures of him, I tell the fisherman, “I do art.” Just in case I use his image. He is cool about the whole thing. Maybe it’s fishing. Helps him. Calms things.
Fishing: The act, occupation, or diversion of catching fish.
I know nothing about fishing. Well, maybe a little. I mean I had a fishing pole as a kid, lead weights, salmon eggs in a jar, a few hooks, a green spool of line, plastic bobbers, red and white. I think I caught a carp once.
No one ever wondered what I was doing or for what reason I was doing it. Back then, I mean, when I was fishing.
The river is high for winter, but it’s still the water I know, its muddy banks, dirty shore, lucid waves. Swollen, I can’t follow it to the lighthouse. I cut through brambles, to the trail, stepping on spongy flora forming a false carpet, made of branches, dried leaves, and grasses, hiding the ground, hiding everything. Curling around fallen trees, the carpet creates deep catacombs. I don’t know why, I’m searching for the dead, that kid that went missing, that woman who hasn’t been heard from in years, bones, fingers, humanity. All colors of the years here have melted into a gray mass. Anyone could be lost here, everyone is, perhaps, lost here, in plain sight. Every now and then I see the ground. I hear the river, its slow pace.
I know why some jump into the river, inside the hidden current, upstream, from the city
To become lost, to lose themselves, to become gray like old flora, that’s the last place to hide.
There are freshwater clam shells strewn along the river’s shore, eaten by birds. Clams filter everything, then so must the birds. And it’s me, filtering…through the gray. There’s not really a way to get lost here, only a way to become hidden. The river’s been higher, flooded the brambles, the soft carpet and all things that have fallen for countless seasons. I stop my search, though I know someone is lost… somewhere… in here. If only I could lift the carpet, look underneath. Afterwards, I would place it back down, exactly how I found it. The trail is the shortest way, always on solid ground, a few feet higher than the river, a little muddy.
I reach the lighthouse.
(Image: Mt. St. Helens from the Columbia River)
Remnants of the past…embedded.
Curled inside chalky lava flows
Stuck to a shape…ripples in stone.
Only elements change its appearance.
I and everything wait for the rain.
The parched flowers and grasses
Fragile skin, stalks, browns and beiges.
Bloomed full, so easily, last spring.
The bridge is out, lower in the canyon
Where the Klickitat heads for Mt. Adams.
Along the dryness, scattered tree limbs
So light, they remind me of bones.
Whitened and greyed by summer
I imagine them becoming a form
A collage of life, blood, and image
Uneven substance, knees, elbows, heart
I feel a sprinkle. It passes quickly.
Once, I believed your hands were so soft
I thought they were made of petals.
Now, I know that I was right.
For, I’m the one who made you.
Forced to walk close to the highway
I pass a row of old houses
Where the highway bends between bluffs
Carrying an assortment of sticks, limbs, knots
The dogs bark at everyone.
Summer plays with you in the forest, running mad in a meadow, hide and seek with a creek, foot race with a river. There are times when you’ll lose the summer’s sun, under deciduous and evergreens. But you will turn a corner, run into a bunch of arguing flowers who point the way back to a blaze of daylight or a ray of heat, the sun laughing its way through the canopy.
Summer places the forest in a still quietude, no rain tapping upon fallen flora, no snow who corners all sound and makes it its own. In this solitude, your memories lie the shade. All you believe and don’t want to believe surrounds you. You will turn a corner, look at the flowers. And they are always, pointing.
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