I Put My Gathering Boots On

by Bill Bradd, October 11, 2017

I like it quiet in the cabin, I listen for a rogue wave that might get over the sandbar, I would hear it come under the bridge, troll-like tinker steps, the sounds of hundreds of pieces of driftwood rushing and bouncing together, like hooves the sounded, the rogue wave, a troll with driftwood stick feet, the skeletal remains of some ancient forest, brought to my swamp by a rogue wave.

The river must be blocked. The ocean had been big at night recently. You can hear it bellering away, just over the dunes. I listen for a rogue wave, something that makes it over the sandbar, the skeletal remains of something I knew well, yearns yet, for the fields of home.

I’ve made a fire. It’s a gray, rainy, coastal day, the wind from the south. The rain comes via the Washington State corridor. The river is flat. Rain does that, as if the rain meets river and at this melding of the two water bodies a peace is achieved, a settlement. The river is docile: the logs meander, following the ducks in their wave. If I too drift off, following the ducks and logs, the cat calls me back by lying on the typewriter, her thighs pressing out Rosebud. She’s from that part of the country. The edges they call themselves memories.

I went outside to have a leak and a small bird told me, the forest does not sleep easy in death. There is a vast movement, under the earth, and many, many small rocks move to the streams, silt them, stop them up, and now it all creeps towards the sea, whole ancient forest, gone from memory, gone from the hillsides, called to the ocean, skeletal remains, giggling cadavers, dancing zombies. An ancient forest, carried by a rogue wave, to my swamp.

The wind has shifted: it’s all out of the west now. The rain has stopped. The ocean is bellering. The west wind is precise with its report. The logs and the ducks have separated. Taking advantage of the slight wind breeze, the ducks have sculled rapidly from the floating doom of the logs in transit. No need to associate with the unlucky as any gambler knows; and ducks, gamblers to the max, sense the unfortunate and move away, feet working the Argonaut position. The cabin is silent. River, though still, is busy. Somewhere at sea a million sticks are gathering, together with a million logs, a trillion dead frogs, in a deep impenetrable darkness that is a void, in the pit of a dead man’s stomach. In the dying lost part of a dead man’s memory, a churn begins, gentle at first, a churn under the surface, undetectable, yet with growing insistence, like the steps of times, like the coming of a moving tiger, upon you as a blink, in death. It was so rapid, so final this crush upon my soul, I am finished. Mother, forgive me and with this churn moves, an ancient forest, to the surface, as sad Marley growing to terrible dimension, a rogue wave, a suffocating influence, an ancient forest, a monstrous swirl of sticks, rocks, land, people, mythology, memories, pain pills, and pasts. A rogue can take all of it out, end up in my field, a bunch of sticks. I’ll use you to start the fire, kick back with my own mythology, keep the cabin still, listen for a rogue wave; I have my gathering boots on.

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