My poem “ramps” is featured in As It Ought To Be Magazine. Check it out here.
After a storm passes, you know how the ground is soaked and the leaves are plastered to the walk, but you can see the bruise-black dusk peering through the clouds? Things smell damaged, but also healing. The autumn of my senior year was like that; the summer had been brutal, some of the darkest I’d ever felt, but that August I moved to a new apartment on a different part of campus, an old house with new roommates, and that was good for me. The area was all twisting, quiet streets that I hadn’t explored since I’d been there. I took to walking, like a convalescent just trying to air out those consumption-filled lungs.
When I come to stay at the house of Cavar, it is after a period of my life of some wandering and disruption, and I venture from the train with two heavy valises of everything I own. I received the invitation some months prior to come and reconnect with my old friend, from whom I had drifted apart after tragedy long-past. When the missive came, I found that rekindling old camaraderie seemed exactly the cure for a distressed heart.
Here’s the thing: it never really leaves you. At times you may grow distant from the river, and forget your way back to Avalon. But please, do not be afraid, and do not doubt yourself. The forest has no doors. It will never close to you.
Here is my promise: it will never really leave you. At times you may wander from the places where your heart was rooted and grown, and forget the way back to the Isle. But do not be afraid. We will call you back.
The forest has no doors. You are always welcome home.
The pigs were upset when he went out in the evening. He could tell from the sound of them before he even opened the door to the barn, as they were squealing and grunting and trotting back and forth across the enclosure, their cloven hooves pat-patting on the packed dirt. The old sow gave an angry squeal as he pushed his way through the door of the peeling red barn.
It took his eyes a moment to adjust in the dim light. The grain dust and excrement smelled not unpleasant to his nose, the acridity lost to years of inhaling it. The pigs were gathered toward the back of their pen, looking at something unseen in the center of their congregation. Once or twice a pig would duck in close to whatever it was that lay on the ground, snapping and snuffling, but whatever had attracted their attention was hidden by their bodies.
The red light in the woods shone steadily through the tops of the trees. It was on the other side of the small valley beyond her window, the one through which she knew the road ran. She couldn’t see the road, but she did see that lone, red light shining through the bare winter branches. The rain came down in a constant snare-drum beat on the roof, and splashed in the puddles of the parking lot, and the light wavered through the sheets of water.
I know I’m late, I’m sorry, my commute was terrible.
I did say that yesterday, but I can explain –
No, I can’t just leave earlier. No, no – It’s not because of anything like that. I would if I could, it’s just, my drive has been taking forever lately.
It’s not the traffic, not exactly.
It’s weird. My commute’s been taking hours. I know the way from my house to the office, of course. It’s easy. I mean, I’m still kind of new to the area, but that’s the one route I know by heart, right? It’s never been a problem until now. There’s no way I could get lost, I think. I just leave my place, turn onto the parkway, head up to I-270 for ten minutes, get off onto Oakland Drive, and then I’m here. It should be a twenty minute trip. I know, I know. But lately, I’ve been getting onto the highway and not being able to get off.
The summer I was fourteen, we had a plague of flies.
You occasionally get swarms of insects come through an area when something about the weather, the predators, and the crop availability syncs up to create a perfect storm. My mom still remembers the year in her childhood when gypsy moth caterpillars ate all the leaves so the trees were winter-bare, and of course everyone knows about 17-year cicadas – though those are a little different.