Letters from Home

A Long Way from Home

On the road, in a car, weaving through the hills, we listened alternately to the sound of radio palpitating, or the body sounds the car spewed coughs or chuckles, the careening of hot tires communing with pavement.

That tree flying is a Norway maple, twisting toward the sunlight– just the same as the one, still and sturdy, next the garage. The tree whose leaves open and bend and weep to the ground before our eyes, every year, then rot in dark piles in deep woods, while we run from work to school to food and bed, and back.

These hills here don’t know what people say about them– they believe they are unmoving, holding the houses carefully still and letting the grass shoot up from its breast. These hills have forgotten that once they were shoved around by the glaciers, and they have no idea that everyone who thinks they are someone use the same rolling cliche to describe their purple stillness.

That stripmall–now here, now gone– is made of broken asphalt and is  silently being eaten by carpenter ants. Any strip mall, all the stores look the same, but his mask hides the secret:  those ants, filing in, day after day, pulling food and goods off the shelves, diligent as the noon day sun. Though they  look the same, but they each paint dreams of another kind of day. They imagine drudgery in a softer form.

And we curl around the hills — north to go south — and the garden, the garden in the yard that I tended, is left behind for the week (or the year), and we are listening to the radio palpitating, soothing us, reassuring us the deer, and the crabgrass, and creeping charlie, will look after it while we are away.

–For J.W.