Story a day: 6.28.16

Reflecting on when I moved across the country.

It begins in the East with low marshes smelling of rot and berries, bogs full of juicy floating jewels. Short trees shade brief snakes intertwining on the unstable muck of forest floors that stretch low and long, sprouting legends that lurk under boughs. Here in these low lands everything may be true. Only as the land rises up, wringing out its moisture, do the bog myths dry out. The mountains are not mountains, but that’s what we call them, we who grew up in marshes and bogs. On the other side lies a drier land, dry and flat and parched, unchanging, unwrithing, and I find myself longing for snakes and stories. This is a nowhere place – not bog, not middle, not West – so when the enthralling vastness of flat land smooths the horizon like an iron I am glad. I watch the scene out the window, a painting standing still while I rush by. Such stillness seems unnatural and yet here it stretches, forever and eternal. It never began and never ends and occasionally like outposts, like proofs of life, a scar digs into the flat red scab of land, a vein filled with secret, bloody colors: purple, blue, orange, rust. The scars become buttes, protrusions and earthen statues. They rise and the green fingers of life trickle up them. A sudden interruption on the horizon. A bracket closing in this timeless place. We rise so abruptly I’m gasping for air. I get a rough education in mountains and height. I understand how little I understood. Snow is not only for winter, low lander. My hands are white, like snow-capped peaks. We tumble down into this land where everything is green and tall and impossible. There are hard and solid truths here built of stone and bedrock. Myths stalk the heights, large lumbering things that surprise no one. The West bursts out of the ground like an Eden and I’m forced to evaluate my worthiness. I don’t belong, but I can pretend. They make us hard and unsurprised down in the bogs where legends lurk.

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