On March 22, 2007, the sky was a corpse. It was the beautiful rotting corpse of winter. Sprawls of gray and white clouds loomed overhead like the guts and ribs of a dead snake in which I and the other maggots were feasting. We had been crawling around on the earth, blind and flaccid. In my little insect brain, a thought pupated. No one’s looking at the sky.Winter’s dying. I had to go somewhere sacred to tell her I loved her before she was buried under rain and flowers. I crawled through rush hour traffic to my pasture and dismounted my car, ready to be alone. I announced my presence to my dad, who grunted and told me there’d be tea waiting when I got back.
A chrysalis of purpose grew around my maggot body, and I emerged from it a lonely warrior in an abandoned land, tired from a long journey. The austere environs of the pasture make me feel like that. It’s almost another persona of mine. My enemy was unkillable, invisible, inscrutable. It was spring. Spring was lurching around like a mossy stone colossus a hundred feet tall, leaving a trail of wet, angry weather in its wake. Its footsteps were thunder, and its hatred of mankind manifested itself as a neutral, meaningless void of a sky, when it could bring one about. I pulled out my loyal but laughable MP3 player–an RCA Lyra, a far cry from the sleek iPod that most people think of when they hear the word MP3 player–and put on some thought-and-loneliness-provoking music, and trudged through the miserable spring air to the second house out the way.
The pasture was an apple orchard before cars and power lines existed. There is only one survivor. It is a hearty, happy tree that makes tart, hundred-year-old, unmodified apples with a crisp texture and strange aftertaste. They’re my favorite apples. There used to be one other survivor 100 feet to the east of the house. It was only half of a tree, its bark long gone, revealing bleach, white, smooth wood, half of a hollow cylinder of dying wood bisected vertically. It still made apples from its one good branch. It died recently, the inexorable march of disintegration finally crushing it under its booted lockstep march. I miss it.
The air in spring, especially March, doesn’t feel like anything on my skin, and this puts me in a miserable mood. I gain most of my awareness of my body from the sensation of air licking against me, hot or cold, but when that feeling isn’t there, I don’t feel like I have a body. This bothers me. I entered the house through the stubborn ass of a front door, a loud pop announcing my entry into this normally silent place. The pale spring like ambiguously lit the front room of the house. The house felt the same way I did about the neutrality of the air. It was annoyed with itself, and the decay and detritus of the room seemed more tired than usual. I sat down in the broken recliner, the springs pushing back against me instead of yielding like a proper chair would. It seemed to delight in letting me know that I wasn’t welcome.
I sat in silent, petulant thought for a second. The lucidity and clarity of winter had faded, and the hazy hallucination of summer had yet to begin. I was caught in an awful limbo wherein my thoughts bounced around the inside of my skull like malformed monsters, doing no one any good, least of all myself. I pulled out my moleskinne journal and stared at the sky through a broken windowpane, a gentle, apologetic rain moistening the pasture. I pulled out my journal and stared at the sky. It was a complicated tableau, too intricate to be meaningfully painted by a human hand, a masterpiece of random chance and air currents. I steeled myself against a stream of revulsion and self-loathing. I was about to commit a vile, filthy act, cheap and tawdry. I was about to write poetry. God help me.
*Eulogy for Winter*
You thought you could beat us.
Winnow us, thin us, defeat us.
But still we keep existing;
Feeding, breeding, subsisting.
I sit now in this bombed out house
A hanger-on, an observer, a louse.
The cold and warm fight weakly.
I put my pen to paper meekly.
Colossi here I saw, mossy, weeping;
Their inscrutable habits keeping.
My hair like theirs, long, unkempt;
From their outsider status, I’m not exempt.
Desiccated trees with visible veins.
Visible through the windows without panes.
Drek and dross, Sturm und Drang, I scream,
But there’s eternity in those twisted frames, it seems.
Blue paint on walls unpainted 40 years.
A wounded winter mourns its passing with flaccid tears.
Nature’s begun her muddy menstruation,
Knee-deep mud for blood and storms for her frustration.
Air at once clean, muddy, bloody, dusty,
Floor glass-littered, filthy, crusty.
It’s to this same state winter wanted us reduced
(At least from its severity, this I’ve deduced.)
A relic apple tree, aged a century and a half,
Looks on this eyes’-blink change, and seems to laugh.
Hills fade from green to blue to gray,
Their ponderings separate from the gray.
O, lifetime of one, what will I have done?
Nothing so impressive as the tree, the elder one.
In this house I’ve played, I’ve crept, I’ve slept.
I’ve fucked, I’ve read, I’ve wept.
This place of peace this demesne of dreams.
Stories I’ve composed here, reams and reams.
Encroached upon by land developers.
Greedy, well-dressed amoebic envelopers.
I leave the house, its crackled door paint like static.
My dreams of mass extinction sound pragmatic.
If God’s will is to reduce mankind by a billion times seven,
Then let it be on Earth as it is in heaven.
And forth I go to drink my tea,
Tell my jokes and happy be.
Where I’ll leave my alien, genocidal thoughts
To linger and rot in the hateful old house, festering here like Rorschach blots
I felt the way one feels after a particularly raunchy sex act; the kind of sex act after which all parties involved are slightly embarrassed by the return to normalcy. But all I’d gained from it was a passable poem expressing my anger at this transitional period I sat in silence a second, stunned at what I’d done. I didn’t know whether to be proud or not, but at least I’d let the world around me, the dramatic clouds overhead, know how I felt about it all. I got up from the chair, a slight creaking noise breaking the muffled silence. A blanket of cool, moist air had enveloped my world, and I really just wanted to get home to that tea. The warm liquid, robust and sugary, would warm my spirits until spring was over. A delirious summer would ensue soon after, and this was my time to meditate in a shrine before I battled the colossus of spring, and weathered the hateful, hazy desiccation of summer. I put my sword in front of my face and paused a second before leaving this ruined temple to its ghost caretakers.
As I marched back to the house I grew up in, I spied the sun dimming in the west. Its rays were weakened by the thick clouds, and in this feeble sunset, the second house out the way seemed more dream than wood and sheet metal roofing.