Frozen Thaw

Six lines split the world.  Their import holds the trees at bay on either side and clears a path below. Above, as if intentionally framed by this electric fissure, the perfect straightedge of a half moon glows.

The morning sun is still tossing and turning under the horizon’s sheets; not quite ready to rise and rouse the rest of us, so the mud under foot still sleeps, stuck in yesterday’s footprints. The windward side of each miniature caldera is frosted in ice, the bottoms a flat lake of frozen dew. My boots crack the craggy crests of each crater’s crust; every step a rhythmic crunching.

Between my footfalls, the sound of my thoughts competes with the almost violent chirping of birds. I can’t help but imagine the hum of the power lines overhead as I walk the well worn path, but perhaps I’m actually hearing the distant roar of rubber on roadway; far enough away to almost feel natural here.

Thwap! My toe stubs against an upturned root and I stumble forward, catching myself before I fall. I’ve reached the point of a peninsula; surrounded by water, the path ends. Now startled out of my reverie, I see the sun is up. Gone are her coquettish pinks and purples; the enticement of anticipation replaced by welcome warmth. The air around me boils into fog as the ground let’s out a sigh. The Mississippi winding out before me shimmers into a river of reflected light flowing from the turbulent surface into my eyes. I feel connected through these outstretched wavelengths.

As I walk back, I see a several small trees covered all around in white, semicircular fungus sticking out from their trunks like platforms. Directly overhead, on the lowest rung of the skeletal canopy of bare branches, one severed limb dangles as if pointing straight down at me.

As I climb out of the ravine, at the edge of the woods, I see an uprooted totem pole, now leaning askance against another tree, tied in place at its off angle by a rope barely more than twine.

Before I make my way up to cross the road, a drain catches my eye, a fluted concrete pipeline running under the roadway. The circle of its exposed opening is bisected into hemispheres; a half moon of frozen runoff. I realize my nose has been running. Rather than sniffle anymore, I cover one nostril and blow mucus onto the ground. I wipe the remaining snot on my glove and cross the road to my car.

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