Friday, June 4, 2021

2 Minutes. Go!

The wind changes the texture of the air, sends ripples across the surface of the water. It carries the smell of honeysuckle and pipe smoke. It is a chorus of murmurs through the dry leaves. 

Andrew watches a leaf drift by, first plummeting, before being sucked up, up, up, high into the air on updraft after updraft. It rides the same currents the osprey does and he wonders where each will be when the sun goes down. 

Andrew will be at home. 

Right now, however, he is not at home. He is shin deep in the cold, clear water of a runoff stream, rod in hand, feeling the wind on his skin and wondering if the trout are feeling hungry. 

He imagines they are. It’s been a long winter. 

In later years, he will come to think of it as a time of directions. Everyone left and nothing went right. He could almost find a bit of humor in that somedays - dark humor, small and sticky like a ball of pine tar.

Through all those months, all the trips to the hospital, he had found solace by the water. There was a logic in it that he appreciated. You fished. If the fish were hungry and if you didn’t screw up too bad, you caught some. Fish like an idiot? No fish. Fish aren’t interested? So be it. Some things are beyond our control. The fish were just. There was no justice in sickness or doctors. I

Illness was the bravado and optimism of fishing, with nothing else. And it waited

Illness has immense patience. 

He tried to push it out of his mind and almost succeeded. For a few hours, he was almost as pure as the water. He was connected to something, tethered. 

He could not float away. 


  1. I wrote mine separately, before I read this, yet we're strangely in sync. I love so much of this, but the one that stuck to me (ha) was:

    "...dark humor, small and sticky like a ball of pine tar."

    1. Oh, I love this. I can feel the silence, the water, all the emotions. And this paragraph: "In later years, he will come to think of it as a time of directions. Everyone left and nothing went right. He could almost find a bit of humor in that somedays - dark humor, small and sticky like a ball of pine tar."

  2. A dark house cached in a deep, dark wood when the wind awakes.

    Spiralling unlikely in the riled air, torn switches of cedar and fir ride the bluster, ripped and rising and falling, brief and tiny brooms to sweep the fitful air nonetheless ordained to meet the littered ground. The roar through lashing branches primal, the howl of some great maddened deity, a shriek of tragic choruses, oceanic, passionate of its ownself, nonchalant of all others.

    It’s like we forgot the incendiary nature of fire. Forgot the faces of our grandfolk.

    Forgot that balance isn’t symmetry, and vice versa.


    This isn’t my apocalypse. I don’t know why it’s fallen on me to tell it. But tell it I might.

    Nothing happens for any reason whatsoever. It’s all just fluke. Finding these legal pads and a clutch of old lead pencils was a random thing. But it ended up conferring something on me. Like, the tribe has spoken and I am its scribe, or some such portentous bullshit. No, it’s fluke. It’s chance. It’s stupid.


    I dreamed of Tekahionwake. She and Chief Capilano were seated in a longhouse at a large elliptical table filled with a great spread: venison, buffalo, succulent salmon, steaming bannock. Quiet people moved in the shadows. At the table, the two great friends were discussing Emily Carr in a way that made me feel strange and uncomfortable. At last I spoke up.

    “Emily isn’t here to defend herself,” I said, keeping my tone neutral.

    “Did you know my given name is also Emily?” asked Tekahionwake.

    “I didn’t. I thought it was Pauline. But wait, no, I kind of did. E. Pauline, right?”

    She didn’t say the word, but her face was eloquent enough. “Precisely.”

    And already she was lost in another of Joe’s great tales. Already I’d forgotten why I’d cared. I only know a poet must be treasured by her tribe.

    Awake, if pressed, I’d guess this dream related times long gone and now forever lost.


    No one stands alone.

    This place. This dark and shining place. This arid dripping place. This flat and craggy place. The Salish Sea to the Kootenays, the Chilcotin and the Cariboo. Haida Gwai to the great Peace River. This edible grass that grows in the sea. At last we can drop the quotidian and give it the name it always craved.

    I hereby name you Konaway Tilikum.

    “Every people.”

    The forests sigh in relief. The mountains sigh in relief. The inlets and islands sigh in relief. Orcas filter dawnlight through expelled mist. The small coastal wolves do a shuffle on the pebble beach. The spirit bear yawns and licks her lips and walks the balance beam of a downed hemlock. The sockeye dream of a comeback. The monarchs too. The raven chuckles and nods. The eagle ignores it all. Silverthrone awaits his day.

    The role of storyteller dismembered, parceled off, each character its own perspective, as it always was. The mosses. The sword ferns. The nurse logs. The living green breath of the understory.

    No one will ever paint this now. No one will know what a painting even is.

    1. Love it. So many beautiful images. I like the naming of things, and the power and relief that brings.

    2. Super powerful, and I feel like the images and tones swirl like eddies. Maybe that's me reaching, but I don't think so. It's like being caught in a literary/historical dust devil.

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  4. Her threadbare hiphuggers did little to warm her ass against the cold parking lot pavement, but she didn’t care. It was better than sitting in study hall, getting the fish eye from that narc of a teacher. Mr. Smith and his polyester pants. She snorted at the vision. His wide lapels and stupid sideburns. Trying to reach cool but landing on ridiculous. She lit a joint and took that first long, sweet inhale, rested her head against the brick wall, closed her eyes, and waited.

    “You shouldn’t be smoking out here,” a voice said.

    Irked, she targeted the sound. That kid again. Coming to a stop only a few feet away. She squinted up at him. He’d been growing his hair long. It was an improvement, but she wouldn’t gift him with a smile. “Yeah? Where should I be?”

    “Don’t all you stoners go out to the woods?”

    “Hey. I am not a stoner. Put me in a box at your own peril.” She took an angry hit, held the smoke in her lungs, let it out slowly. “And I never go to the woods. That’s exactly where those narcs look first. Nobody comes out here except the janitors and the lunch ladies, and they don’t give a shit.”

    Something about the look on his face puzzled her. The raised brows. The anticipatory smile as if composing his next action. She couldn’t tell if he was about to laugh, or give her another lecture about her health. The pot started blurring the lines, made her care less about what he might or might not do next. Although it pissed her off a little that he was still standing there.

    “You gonna turn me in?” She smiled, slow and easy. Guys liked that smile. She knew he did. He’d been chasing after her since junior high. Once, she’d let him catch her. Maybe she would again—she’d let the pot decide.

    He tossed his backpack to the pavement and sat beside her. Gestured to her joint.

    “Seriously,” she said.

    He shrugged. She grinned, and handed it over. She waited for the inevitable coughing fit of the newbie, but he held on, and all that escaped his lips was a slow curl of smoke.

    “You never smoked pot before? You toke like a pro.”

    The kid blushed, handed it back. “You make it look easy. And…sort of fun.”

    She thought about that while taking another hit. Not exactly fun. The effects…she liked getting high. The freedom. The possibility. That she could do anything, be anything…take a vacation from this bourgeois town, her parents’ half-acre suburban nightmare. The minute she graduated, she’d leave Long Island and never return. Maybe before.

    He took the doobie back, their fingertips brushing together on the transfer. The touch felt purple, electric, but more like a wave than a spark. A wave throughout her body.
    “Your eyes look pretty when you’re high,” he said. Then laughed. “Well, they always look pretty. You know that song Suite: Judy Blue Eyes?”

    “Crosby, Stills and Nash. Of course. Everyone knows it.” He thought her eyes were pretty? The purple morphed into a ribbon of red blending into blue.

    “You’re like…like Sweet Judy Brown Eyes.”

    He blushed again. She grinned, and leaned her head against his neck, just to remember what it felt like. How he felt.

    “Let’s go,” she said, and stood, feeling unsteady a moment, then it was as if she’d surged with power.

    He got quickly to his feet, steadied her. “Where…?”

    “Woods,” she said.

    “But that’s where the narcs—”

    “Shh…” She pressed a fingertip against his electric-wave blue candy lips, and then her mouth.

    1. Whoa, you pack so much information in seemingly effortlessly. I say "seemingly" as I know it's not an easy thing to do. With only a few words and no need to spell it out, we're instantly aware of the era, long before we get to CS and N. We're also immediately immersed.

    2. I agree. Really deftly done. And I love this:
      He took the doobie back, their fingertips brushing together on the transfer. The touch felt purple, electric, but more like a wave than a spark.


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