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 favorite 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 woolen 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?
After goingto Francemy mother learned
After learning French my mother got
so far as Iremember.
If my office reflects my mind, it is no wonder I can’t sleep at night, with all that clunking inside my head.
I must purge, but every object has a memory and memory has become important. Every nook and cranny on the shelves has been filled and still memories are stacked around the floor. There is a small path from door to chair.
My daughters visit, albeit one at a time. I stand on my chair to reach favorite books, point out finished and half-finished projects. I am a fount of good intentions.
Pinned to a board next to my table are photos of my parents, invitations to exhibitions long passed, a heart-shaped scapular from my childhood, said to contain a tiny relic from a saint long-forgotten.
I dream of a room more zen, with only this chair, that table, my clay jar of pens, a drawer of paper and inks, my laptop and me. Ha. It would last five minutes before I started dragging in twigs, bits of copper, jars of watch findings and buttons, sheets of silver leaf, pages ripped from magazines, and boxes of photographs with origins unknown.
Pressed leaves fall from my books. Pressing leaves is not good for books, causing rippled pages and mould patches. I bought a leaf press that I can’t find.
I keep a laminator that died after ingesting half a sheet of plastic, in the hope that it will spontaneously regurgitate its stomach contents.
The closet is filled with old receipts, electronic manuals, deceased laptops, bags that were never quite right, banker’s boxes of tzotchkies, and a certificate of ordination from the Universal Life Church. Not even I know what else is buried there. It now requires excavation, not a light dusting and re-alignment, and so I close the doors.
Out of sight. But never out of mind.