“The ocean’s culinary taste
was growing more sophisticated and occasionally
its appetite was unwieldy. It ate boats and children,
the occasional shoe. Pants. A diamond ring.
. . .
The original lifeguards were taught to address the ocean
as neighbour. Neighbour, they’d said, always showing
their open hands, please give back the child you’ve swallowed.”
– Sue Goyette, Ocean
In the morning, we walk the trail hewn of forest, where the mountain devoured a little girl last fall, when she scampered ahead of her mother.
Now the cedars are huddled tight as arrows, tips murmuring, plotting
their trajectory and how much of themselves they can bear
to leave behind. Springtime is ruffling tree boughs feathery
as baby robins, or the downy fur puppies shed as they grow older
and less adventurous. Much as the girl who got eaten by the mountain
won’t. The trail cinched into the forest leaves a welt.
Was it here? We ask as we pick our way down the ravenous slope.
Or perhaps here, where a lip of earth trembles and tree roots writhe
out of the forest floor like muscles and tendons, stripped
of their skin and clawing for air. We three daughters,
one cautious foot before another, clutch at thistles and explanations,
trying and failing to imagine such a bottomless loss. Below
in the gullet of the valley, the trail colluded with a swollen creek
to bring ruin, and the man who urged the trail, a gash,
across the steep slope in the first place, lay at home on a couch
in a dim room without rising for days, guilty of having daughters
who managed to grow up safe and whole. Never mind all the years
that remain for worrying over granddaughters
and all the paths that might betray them and plunge them,
gobble them up whole. The warm, green breath
of the sun keeps us from knowing, absolutely, where
and how the hungry rocks rumbled her down the throat of the hill.
Or why the deafening creek roars so loudly over the wreckage
of fallen trees and savaged stones you might mistake its sobs
FWIW: I’m back at school, taking a course requiring me to write a weekly-ish blog, sometimes about the works we’re reading in class, sometimes about new encounters or experiences, particularly those that involve other art forms. If these posts seem different from those in the past, this is why.