The field had long since stopped breathing. All iced-over trees & tangled wires, these nights are no longer what I thought they were. Week seven of aching teeth, & my dreams turn inward: the sun parlor at the edge of the edge of the world. One window overlooks a garden, the others cracked straight through with frost. I’m not myself in this climate, this sky filled with sunless light. The snow goes on & on. I can’t remember the name of the clearing, or when I first arrived here. The field says nothing.
We wanted to hire a landscaper, but all we found were teenagers who wanted to mow our lawn for twenty bucks, maybe thirty. We wanted a water feature. We’d talked about it over dinner. But the cheapest one we saw that we both liked cost two thousand dollars. We decided to settle on some gnomes. One of them is pushing a wheelbarrow in which we planted some annuals. I don’t remember what they were called. Something “morning,” or “yellow” something.
There’s this way sometimes when you’re walking in the yard that you can really feel a part of it. You know? Like you can kind of understand things.
landscape with ghosts
That was when the gardeners disappeared into the snow. One by one they went missing, carrying their tiny shovels with them. Winter here is always like this, taking with it those small ornaments: an old glove, a gnome statue, the entire living room window. At night the trees & that odd silence. When we met, near the edge of a seemingly endless field, I was preoccupied with the weather. Now the iced-over branches are all I can see. Somewhere else, the gardeners have just begun to dig.
There are some things you just know. You’re sure of them. Or else you’re acting from instinct. When we’re being scientific, we say things like “muscle memory,” but we mostly say that to make ourselves feel better about how weird it is that it seems like our brains are distributed through our bodies.
There’s a door behind you and you can feel it opening and you can feel someone looking at you. “Turn around!” you’re saying to yourself, in much the same way that when you’re sleeping you know you need to roll over, and not just any way, this specific way, over and to the right.
My father once moved a tree that had its bad side facing the kitchen. He dug the whole thing up and turned it a quarter turn and over three feet or so. Who even thinks to do that?
It was like walking into that same room & noticing the door has locked behind you. All night I listen for a key turning, but hear only footsteps. Meanwhile trees fall into ruin, dragging the birds & telephone wires with them. Now storm sirens, now the most startling numbness in every fingertip. It is an ache. Beyond the window, there is a field we see & a field we will never understand.
The chapter on health
“Oh those crazy days” we say when we bump into each other years later, but mostly they weren’t all that crazy I think later, and that makes me feel sad. I mean, those days should have been crazy. Now, looking back, they should have been crazy. We might as well say the trees in that country are made of glass, for all the good they’ll do us. Those sure were some crazy days.