Friday, January 27, 2012
The woods around my little clearing are alive, pregnant with the sounds of late summer bugs and night-time birds. The same, I imagine, that met the ears of Civil War platoons; men in ragged wool shirts with hand-rolled cigars, of Indians resting after hunting these hills, of a triceratops and her young, for all I know. I watch a centipede crawl from a wound in one of the logs I broke for the fire. It crawls to the edge of where the heat must be too intense and starts to retreat. I push it onto the coals with a stick, watch it curl into a spiral, and become a molded-glass shell as the fire eats its insides. I remember coming home from school, when it was still cold, and finding the house empty of my children, the smell of their crayons and saliva and shampoo still hanging in the air. I remember walking from room to room expecting to find a note or a treasure map that would lead me to them, but instead finding my wife leaning back against the toilet, legs splayed out like a drunk or a girl playing jacks, weeping with her face in her hands, bloody toilet paper piled beside her smeared legs. She kept saying, "I killed it, I killed it somehow," and I kept wanting to tell her I was glad it was gone if it would have lived to hurt her, but also wanting to hold it, hold it somehow--even small and gray like a clay baby. I watch the shell of the centipede--like a snake or a parasite or some pre-historic terror--glow orange, turn to ash, and disappear. I listen to the ancient hum of late summer bugs and wonder who will hear them when I am gone.