November is trying its level best, I get that…bringing me gifts like amber and blue light in the marsh grass and a beaver’d tree, but it’s still November. The palliative sun strokes my hair and speaks in hushed tones about the end while November just acts normal…the wet walking, the dark dinner, the numb coldness underneath it all.
What the hell am I doing back here, I text Billy Shakespeare—a nickname I gave him in English class 30 years ago—the last time I lived here.
Billy Shakespeare texts back that he spent last night in a truck with two extremely progressive lesbians from Bastrop, the only place in Texas where they (used to) have decent trees (before the Fire). They’d stayed at a concert to the very end but were too tired to drive back. So they all just slumped over in his truck. This didn’t bode well for the 10 ulcerating hours in front of a computer screen that were still ahead of him the next day in some stale office where he does temporary contract work until the next town and then the next.
After they woke up, Billy and the gurlz had stopped for coffee in Dime Box where the old timers were already setting up the dominoes. Reading the coffee grounds in the bottom of his cup, Billy predicted the waitress was madder than a rat in a coffee can at the cook.
The land is starved out down here…loneliness and despair are just coming up over the horizon, he wrote. Well, you’re not missing much, I wrote back…just a wet blanket of a morning in Michigan. Forecast calls for 50s and raining…or is that my horoscope.
Hell, he’d trade the whole damn Republic of Texas for a quarter acre of Ogemaw County in October, he replied. If he closes his eyes, he can smell the wet side of the leaves from canoe birch, poplar, oak and beech matted into a crazy quilt across the floor of the forest. If a man could just make a decent living listening for the apples to drop…if he could just come home.
If you love it that much then just come home, chrissakes, man. Decide you’re going to do it, and feckin’ do it, I tell him. Oh, you got all figured out, doncha, smalls? pause Well, I’ve got it all figured out for you, Billy, I tell him. Not even hardly for myself. I stare out the window awhile…I wonder. How many times have I gathered myself like leaves do then just waited for the wind to choose the right moment?
– L. Seaver © 2013