The Fieldstone Review

Mindful

i.

I encase my words in plastic, cut them apart and scatter them into the woods. My woods. My words popping up then and there through the moss sponge. How long will they last?

I bottle poems about my mother, throw one into a lake. I liberate her from the memory-taker, bring her here to be inserted into the slit bark of a tree.

One of my favourite spots is a bench on a hill in these woods. Three years ago, while chemicals were pumped through my body, I came here in my mind to sit, to feel the sun flicker on my face, hear the frogs’ chorus: I’m alive. I’m alive. I’m alive.

I bring my stones here. One stone collected from each place I visit. I used to try to take every stone, weighting my pockets so that I could scarcely move. Allen would say, “I am not carrying your rocks in my suitcase.” But I slipped them beneath the lining, tucked them into his woollen socks.

I think of clay squeezed through my hand, oxide-darkened and fired, scattered on the shore of a lake in Tasmania, dropped path-side in Pompeii, tucked into these woods.

The spruce trees, though tall and sturdy, are shallow-rooted. They can’t be counted on for support though I’ve imagined a tree house with a dropped ladder where my grandchildren might play. Surely these aren’t the first hard winds to blow here?

The man who gravels our driveway advises to scrape off all of the trees and start over. We have two and a half acres of trees. I grew up on the bald prairie, was always looking for shade, a place to hide.

My daughters visit during a summer on steroids. Heavy rains have caused the underbrush to build muscle. I stand on my bench to point out The Big and Little Dips, the baby birches I hope to move, the tree suspended above the entrance to the ridge where spruce have fallen, stacked like cordwood.

The girls see hiding places for bears and cougars that would snack on small children. They see a whole lot of work. They travel thirty minutes north to pitch their tents in Beaver Glen.

In the winter, deer plough a path around the hill and up to my bench. Are they curious or reclaiming their hill, their view?