The hands that had made the world are long gone. Whatever temples, and ruins of these, and fields long past fallow, these all remain somewhere. Even a simple walk is a reminder of memories that are no more. They are gone, they have fled, like childhood fairies weeping in the forest elsewhere unseen. All this has fled. Small reminders, they are here and they are there. Some wear the placards of nostalgia, and some—like candy necklaces on an elastic thread pulled on by wet sandy teeth near the food stand at the beach—are almost sentimental. Others wear signs for tourists, the lost folk of the planet hoping—with too much grease, salt, and time on their hands—that a real piece of kitchen baked pie can be bought and taken back home with them. Most of the relics that have anything left worth remarking on are completely nameless, outside of the scope of much of human history. Here and there a spent farmer’s hand must be detected, even as the forests have grown over the fields, and his family has completely dissipated itself by now between most of New England and the northern coast of California where the bright anemones are waving their colors in the clear shallow water among the rocks.
There hadn’t been a reason to recant a single thing. Why, my memory had been blown anyway, so the point on it was lost. Tulips had been supposedly planted for the dead. Termite mounds rose out of nowhere. Morning shadows stretched over fallen brown leaves. Jupiter had fled. My incendiary reaction to politics notwithstanding did not undo the fact that I had been time ago a pretty good shot, prone or standing. The acres and acres of corn had stood. Ears had been popped off here and there. Some joke of some kind, someone had guessed. That I had been doing nothing at all, facing southwest on the porch overlooking some fallen paradise, why it made me perfect for it. Everything about it was in my files anyway. I could talk a storm but I had nothing to say about any burn marks on my fingers nor the stubble on my cheeks.
Leftover Ancon Sheep Rocks
These stones had been here for almost two hundred years, maybe more. Cleared by a farmer’s hand, he laid them atop another much larger one he could never move, to clear his pasture land for grazing Ancon sheep. These short-legged, wooly animals were a genetic aftermath of some Massachusetts mistake permitting low stone walls and shallow fences around the countryside to be built. These stones I had found here and there about these woods were leftover afterthoughts of some greater task. No Giza in the desert. No Chichen Itza. No Stonehenge. Just a practical doing away with a bit of solitary labor. For me their anonymity was a great relief. Unless some reckless body troops through these woods again long after I am gone, they were there. Unless a Wrecker of Mead Halls, some outlandish, wanton arm of purposeful carelessness comes by, these rocks must remain lovely and pointless as the backside of the illumined moon, dust upon some forgotten shelf of being, a pair of wings fallen off a nameless angel. Long after we ourselves had been allowed to fade away like nothing, like that hard-working farmer’s breed of sheep, all our sunken thoughts were still awaiting some rising of the great Ocean’s long forgotten seas.
Wintertime Among Neighbors
My house had been one of the finest. And my neighbors’ houses, they had been fine ones too. And all about us the Eastern White Pines grew tall. Except for once, or perhaps twice a year, we never saw each other. Each of us, we all lived alone in our houses completely occupied with our work at hand. There were a number of trades, and a number of professions, and a number of arts with which we all were occupied for the better part of the year. Then, once a year, or as I have said, sometimes twice, we would up-gather ourselves, and meet in an open field where no trees ever grew. Salads, and spicy dishes, and crumbling crusted deserts were laid out on folding tables. And while none of us could ever remember speaking, all of us would always remember listening to our neighbors this one day (or twice) a year. The field had been freshly mown, and all of us could realize on this day how lucky we all were to live nearby in the same forested neighborhood. We would make plans with each other to meet during the intervening months. For to visit each other’s workshops, to walk about each other’s studios, to thumb our fingers through another’s library, or to just walk through another’s hay-strewn stable, was what we all had wanted in earnest to do. It was almost over a decade since any of us realized that the field which had been once mown was now overgrown. In it were tiny saplings, the same pine as which made up the rest of the forest that had by then completely enclosed us.