1. It isn’t death that scares me. You think it would be at the top of the list but it’s too vague. I insist on something more tangible. A late night phone call, a stranger at the door. Knives. Today snow falls fast and persistent, as if it will cover the ground, as if it will cover the grass and the small stubble of green where the garlic pokes through. The rich, black dirt. The snow pretends to make everything beautiful. I wonder if this scares me. I stop to listen but all I hear is the clock ticking.
2. Being alone doesn’t scare me. Or a bear in the meadow. Fast water. Exposed rock. I walk here and there. I walk in the rain, sunshine. In winter or summer. Through small towns or busy cities. I walk along trails or off into the trees. Between hemlocks and Douglas firs. Alone and hidden behind bushes, where I hear the rumble of logging trucks, distant above the river. I walk into the wild. Mile after mile. For hours. Days. My home on my back. Eventually it turns dark everywhere – in the woods and along the city streets. Beyond my headlamp, growling and a stirring in the underbrush. Beyond street light, the fall of footsteps against pavement. I walk faster. Cross the street. Crawl into the tent. Hear my heart beating, then the soft clatter of leaves in a breeze. I wonder what scared me.
3. The snow still falls. Persistent. Silent. The cat sleeps in the chair. The tea is cold. Snow falls against the bare alder branches. Atop the fragile tops of ferns. It dusts the wide boughs of cedar. The phone rings. I don’t answer. Let them leave messages. Let them talk into the machine. Let them wonder where I am. Why I don’t answer. I wander the rooms. Put wood in the fire. The school bus will come, but I’ll be late. I won’t make it to the end of the drive before my son hides in the bushes. Before he runs down the trail to the maple tree, to the spot in the field where the deer once walked, the one with the broken leg. She hopped along slowly. It was fall and the leaves were orange and the cold crept around the edges of morning and evening. We wondered if we would see her again, her and her young bucks with the fuzzy spikes on their heads, her sons that walked slowly with her, through the grass and off into the alders. Crashed loudly and slowly away. My son jumps out from behind a bush but it doesn’t scare me. So many times he tries to scare me. Early in the morning when I’m making coffee or just before bedtime as I brush my teeth.
“Boo,” he says and waits for the little scream, the jump, like I did once when he put a spider on my lap. We never see the deer again. None of them, not even the bucks.
4. I can’t remember the words of the song. The one I loved as a child. I get part of the tune and hum, mumble some words. It’s like this I think, the fading. I wanted a boy once. Kissed him on the back of the bus for hours. Kissed him under the dock. All summer long I desired his hands. Now, I want to sit in the sun. Perhaps katydids will rasp or toward evening a chorus of frogs will start. I try to remember the words of the song. The walls of the house creak, the heater comes on. I am getting cold, my hands are stiff. The cat is silent as snow. It is accumulating. It isn’t summer at all. I can barely remember summer. The garden has wasted away. What are left are carrots and potatoes, most have rot in the middle. I tell my son to get potatoes for dinner.
“Go to the garden,” I say. He tells me they are gone, the potatoes, all of them eaten.
5. I have a dream I have hidden something. Buried something. Something I killed long ago. I try to forget this. But then they come. They knock on the door. They stumble about in the yard. Shine flashlights. It is always late at night. Sometimes, it is raining, hard and persistent like it does, not this gentle snow but rain in sheets. Rain like insanity. Rain like a flooded river falling from the sky. Savage and terrible. They dig and dig. I knock and knock on a door, but no one will open it. No one ever opens it. I pound on the door. Once, there was a crack and a young man peeked out, smiled. Once, I saw the wave of a hand, a woman shrugged her shoulders.
“Figure it out,” she lilted. The dirt opens up though, the dirt does. Offers its hands. Welcomes me in. Takes hold of my ankles. Then I wake up. So far, I have always woken up.
(So it wasn’t really snowing today – what can I say – who doesn’t like snowy pictures in July)