Tuesday, June 6, 2017

An End to Ashes

On the slopes of the high cascades in Oregon, rising ever more steeply to the final peak of Mt. Jefferson, there is a bend in a long dirt road, about a mile above Horseshoe Lake and a mile below Brietenbush. At this bend, if you stop and climb up through the trees, you will find a panoramic view from atop a cliff all along the shoulder looking back to the west and north. You will see what seems an unending wilderness, spotted with lakes the size of teardrops and scarred by the lower hills and lesions of stone, deep and vast, both beautiful and terrible, such that you fear you will be sucked in, drawn by sheer gravity, hopelessly non-plussed, undone by insignificance. This is where I left my family; my father, my mother, my brother; part to the wind, part to the earth, part to the gaping spaces between boulders where secret eyes of the lowest things watched on. There they are still, or at least in some pieces, a shred of bone here, a bit of tooth there, and the rest fleeting clouds of ash, scattered to the four corners of heaven and earth, but not gone, never gone. Cannot we start again from the beginning? Cannot we go back to Maple street, in spring let us say when the rains have stopped and the leaves have come out all green and new and bleeding ripe and tender sap and the grass is matted where we had rolled down the bank and the screen door is banging left unlatched and the laundry waves like flags on the clothesline and the lawnmower growls along the curbing strip and the trees and the sky and the birds and the sun all speak first thing in the morning? Where have you gone my love and my heart to be so relentlessly, so eternally near?

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