The moss and its alert peoplehood, shoulder to shoulder, delicate green antennas, shoulder to shoulder, a sea of tiny green soldiers.
Dried ferns, scorched in arthritic hands of witches.
Why a scared child?
A turquoise car abandoned, bushes of ferns growing through its gaping windows.
Tracks of two-toed moose. Wild turkeys scratched the forest floor for acorns.
A network of plugs drains the spring sap out of maple trees.
Leeches we are, preying on life.
Down we walk along a trail, down, down, until we reach the Beaver’s Pond.
I’m startled by the rummaged landscape.
Death beaver ate its way through the young wood. Bit through it savagely.
Here a fallen oak tree, majestic once, all chewed up. There a white birch column, massacred, half-drowned in the indifferent mirror of the lake.
Around the lake ridge scores of trees, columns tumbled chaotically, dried branches, sun-bleached skeletons.
As we approach the lake, death realm, the Beaver King furiously slaps his tail against water, to scare us away from his nesting den, his little ones hidden.
As if I care to bother them, disturbed as I am by the death scenery.
This forest ruin of untimely fallen trees is my hometown, forgotten I thought, but still deep in my memory. The beaver eating its own forest.
Instead of shots of green and buds of spring, ants and monster crawlers nest in tree flesh, young tree untimely chewed into death.
A waterfall at the dam, cries, mourning for my young brother, mourning, wailing for the child with bright blue eyes. My memory replaces his drunken young man face with so lovely an infant, my innocent one. I mourn the walks in the woods we never took together, the talks we never had together. The hope I never gave him. My love withheld in grudges and irritation, his adolescent arrogance, foolish squandering of life.
Beaver, don’t chew my soul with the regret I never ministered to my brother. My words might have helped him stay away from death.
I walk closer to the waterfall, its howling pain resonating in my ears, trembling my heart to tears, cry water, cry, cry, cry, cry water tumult, cry out my powerlessness, my splitting pain, cracking open all pain for all those I lost to death, even for those who were unkind. Maybe life taught them regret, before I got to tell them it’s all forgiven, forgotten, don’t blame yourself for the pain you gave me, it’s all forgotten, forgiven, die in peace. It’s all forgiven. I understand now. Look at the buds of green on the spring branches, ready to explode in riots of lively green. I forgive as I hope to be forgiven too.
My brother knew we loved him. He knew all too well, he played us, wrapped us around his little finger. He knew we loved him. He just couldn’t bear life anymore. I can.
Walk, walk, cry now, cry now. Bye now, brother, bye now.
The woods, cracking twigs under my feet, the evergreens mirrored in the reverberating circles of water, remind me of my childhood, of my mother. He didn’t want to leave her womb, he clung to it, scared of the outside, scared of growth, scared of independence.
Why my mother is it so?
I find your comforting love in the burning embers of the camp fire. In its pulsating red glow, your heart, unstoppable glow of love and strength, my mother. Your warm hugs, in the flames and sparks spurred in the darkness you are with me, my mother.
The sizzling sap of the firewood. The smoke stinging my eyes, your sharp tongue.
I find you in the crying of the lonely screechy owls. Under the shiny stars, that glitter in spite of weather fortune tellers who predicted snow and cold.
You are, dear mother, in the laughter of my son. In my womb.
In the tallness of the room, in the wooden ceiling and its cracked oak beams you are, as I fall asleep in this friendly home, my Easter sanctuary.
Even in the warm soapy water I wash the dishes in, the memory of childhood and you, my kitchen chores then, scrubbing dishes in the cold water, my umbilical cord still tying me to you as I rinse dishes now.
On the table your chicken and mashed potatoes; we were served tonight your Sundays.
Mother, teach me how not to mourn you while I mourn my brother. Teach me how to be you, my mother, so that I should never miss you, my mother, when your death will come. Teach me how when the door of mourning those taken from me by life or death, when that door cracks open, teach me not to break down, but to be a gracious host.