Saturday, May 23, 2009

Some Say The World Will End In Fire

I used to think air was free. As a country boy I would go for runs down the gravel road from the Colton house past the Madison ranch and Smith’s tree farm down to highway 211 where the logging trucks rumbled by and Milk Creek ran smooth against the rocks that snaked all the way to Estacada. Then back up Unger Road, sucking in evergreens and pine cones, a distant skunk or deer leaping into the brush, I would stop and catch my breath in the middle of the mountain road, just me and the yellow pencil shots of asphalt and look out at the horizon and snowy Mt. Hood and think, I’ve got to get out of this place, so far away that I almost forget it was once home. Air was not free then, the price I paid for breathing was the hurt I left behind.
I used to think that love was fair. This is because I took and gave it away so easily. The batting of eye lashes and sweet whispers in the dark, the exchange of hearts aflame, I thought that made us even, but I found out the cost. Nights alone. Hurting. Wondering why young promises could crush so cruel. Love was not fair because I fell harder than most.
I used to think that thoughts were finite. Roaming library stacks and squatting in aisles for hours, pondering and postulating and drawing conclusions. I knew that Truth was Beauty and Beauty was Truth and only the wise man knows he knows nothing for sure. Thoughts gave me fits because they were supposed to answer questions, but they only led to more. Thinking cost me my joy.
I used to think that afternoons were for fun. Swinging vines and ropes tires over creeks, shagging flies hit right off the tee, flying kites and sitting with my back up against hard bark sketching and reading and napping in the shade. Then I got old and numb and one day I became like the father who scoffs and throws the beans on the floor because he sent the boy off with the only cow and he returned with magic he refused to remember was real.
I used to think the future was my faith. I was a star gazer, a church pew kneeler, a palm reader. I looked to the signs with a watchful eye. Then I felt real betrayal and was reduced to ash. How do you recover from that? How do you breathe and love and think and smile and believe again when the world ends.
Well, silly, you don't.
But I never really wanted an ordinary life either. Did you?
So as for that fire and ice thing, both will suffice, and I'll be back when the world comes around again, and I won't be alone.

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