after i dropped him off
and made sure he was
comfortable in his room
through the fog
a mass of white
bit by bit
by going slow
i missed my turn off
confused by the changes
wrought by the mist
places once familiar
the lights adding
to my blindness
i found my
i know not what
the new year holds
the next stop
on the journey
the fog of
the not yet
faith keeps me
on the road
in my love for an
in a small
returning to places where i once wandered
with persons i did not know would be a part of me
when what was the future then is now today
very little remains of what i remember
and what i envisioned for my life is much more and less than what i thought it would be
strange to think many of those who walk here now only existed in that place where all of us begin
when i wandered here
already a young old man
and so very
the dogs and i
at the place where the tree swallows the fence
along scent trails where families walked this morning on the way to school as she and i used to
so long ago
barriers abound in this cold place
with wooded flesh
struggling to push through
we turn back towards home
rooms empty of her now
on the steps
i ponder the necessity of fences
link in an endless boundary line towards a future i can no longer see
or pretend to
I was cleaning today, tired of the dust, a spring cleaning in winter. Such cleaning and the reorganizing that goes along with it help to do the same to me on the inside.
And I wind up discovering mementos that I temporarily forgot.
One such is a note from my grandfather. Words of wisdom in his scrawling hand that seem even more apropos in these uncertain days.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
i am a shell of who or what I once was
sucked dry by the past’s creativity
walls adorned with art painted 20 years ago following me from one residence to the next like fading memories
hard drive and heart filled with songs and dreams recorded yet unreleased Langston’s birds with broken wings
journals of endless musings
runes of my becoming
yellowing with age
what I do now seems to falter beneath the weight of what I have done
known only by me
and a precious few
who seem so surprised by the truth
the responsibilities of today
the roles I am forced to play somehow block the artist I am from view
i climb your stares like an overweight guest
the effort and this present leave me breathless
The fire draws closer. I can see the advancing gleaming bodies of the Demolishers, pushing the burning debris before them. Behind them come the Sterilizers, the Builders, the Governing, the Sellers, the Residents, the Scavengers, and the cycle repeats itself. A nearby tree goes up in a thundering roar of flame like a rocket blasting off into the night. I can feel the heat on my face, blistering the skin of my cheeks. In my minds eye, I see the great oak ablaze and the stone bench overturned. I see the silver streets and steel walls laid over the blackened ruins of the cottage. I see the City going on and on and the earth fading away. I see the ashes of the Forest washed away and covered in sterility.
I weep. Great racking sobs shake my body and add to my pain. But I cannot stop. The tears pour from my eyes, steaming before the flames, and go running like a river out over the ground. But I know they will never be enough to soothe my torment. Or put out the fire in my Forest.
Began: May 14, 1996 Finished: December 22, 2000
Presently, I hear someone coming through the Forest. At last, I think, the Scavengers have arrived. I am surprised to see boots instead of the silver tread of the med bots. The man kneels down beside my body so he can look into my eyes. I give a start. It is my Deputy Assistant.
“Roff,” I say, shocked and puzzled by his presence. He has never been fond of my Forest.
“Mayor,” the man acknowledges, nodding his head. “You are stronger than I thought.”
“The Scavengers?” I whisper, grimacing at the effort. The white worm in me is gnawing at my guts with a vengeance.
He looks off into the distance. “They will not be coming,” he says.
“How?” And then I hear another more disturbing sounds. A crackling. Red light flickers like a halo behind Roff’s head. No! I think. I struggle, but it is no use. My body beneath the tree fails me. The pain slams me back into the earth again.
“Why?” I ask, but deep inside in the part of me that is unbroken, I know.
The new Mayor smiles as he rises and steps away.
“Expansion,” he says. Then he is gone. And I am alone with my pain and the fire and the knowledge that I am going to die truly and the Forest is going to die with me. I close my eyes against the overwhelming weight of sadness that crushes down upon me.
I came to the first marked trunk and as the blade bit deep into the tree, I stepped back into the natural rhythm I craved so much and could find nowhere else. In a moment, the blade cut through and the tree teetered for a moment before gravity brought it crashing down. I laid my throbbing hands against the trunk and mourned for a moment its falling. Then I moved on to the next.
I do not remember how or when it happened. I had been working for several hours, lost in the joy of hard work and the smell of sweat, sap and sawdust. The blade cut through yet again and I stepped back to let the tree fall. A movement in the Forest caught my eye, I turned, and darkness came crashing down upon me.
I awake beneath a crushing weight, my spine broken, and life oozing out of me into the brown needles under my body. I await the Scavengers and another life. I am afraid. I wonder what the wait for death was like in the old days. This is not easy, the fear and the pain are no less I suppose, but I have the surety of a Returning. That is of course if they are not too late. I smile through shattered teeth. The call is automatic, wired into my brain and the city web. The Scavengers always arrive in time.
I move in and out of consciousness. The trees sway above me in the wind before a dark, vermilion sky. I am at peace.
Following a path that led from the cottage through the middle of the woods, one would presently come to a meadow in the center of the Forest. I had placed a stone bench at one end of the clearing under the over spreading branches of a great oak. Many were the days I had spent on the bench listening to the wind in the pines, the bird song, the scurrying of rodents’ feet. During these times a blissful peace so deep and powerful would seize me and hours would pass by before I realized it. Then the beeping of a Caller would hum in my inner ear, waking me from the magic of the Forest, and I would tread reluctantly back down the needled path to the cottage and the spinning crescendo of Civilization.
It was early morning when I set out along the path towards the place where I had marked the trees that needed felling. The stone bench and the arms of the oak beckoned, but I resisted the temptation to cast the fireblade aside and sit for a while. The longer the dead trees stood the greater the danger that they would fall upon someone or something. Widowmakers, the harvesters of old called them. An apt name, for many were the stories of the lone man in the woods found by a spouse beneath the crushing weight of a former friend of the forest. The thought sent a shiver up my spine as I stepped beneath the trees.