In the mornings, I like to follow our border collie on his nose-to-the-ground rounds: out to the creek at the edge of our land; up to the vegetable garden near the foothills; across the back yard. Sometimes, the hair on the back of his neck stands up.
Our farm land in southern British Columbia borders a mountainous wilderness. My husband and I find curiosities on our property all the time: peaches picked from our trees; tunnels under our fences; grape cluster stems, cleaned of berries. Now and then, feeding our fascination with the unknown: strips of grass, chiseled out of the lawn, coiled like jelly rolls. What roams around here at night after we turn out the lights?
There are no streetlights between the old slaughterhouse and the edge of town. The road that links them feels longer than its few hundred barren meters, proceeding above a rocky slope that ends in channel water—the former landing place of blood and entrails, arriving by chute while dogfish gathered. Six nights per week, a young woman makes her way along this route, tiny phone-light in hand, walking toward the main village on the Greek island of Hydra. Her name is Marina. I’ve known her since she was a child.
Interior of a silver Volvo wagon, back door pockets stuffed with Candy Ring wrappers, pencils, and rocks; I am looking in the rear-view mirror or over my right shoulder into the backseat, my left hand on the wheel, right hand on the seat back next to me. Two small boys, both with eyes the exact color as my own, stare back at me, pleading or explaining or demanding or questioning or laughing or crying or sulking or fighting or trying to hide. The car smells vaguely Cheerio-like. No matter the music, the soundtrack is chatter and the rhythmic kicking of a seat back. They also like punching each other’s seat warmer buttons with their feet to be annoying.
My late husband was a man who invented facts. He was Danish by birth, and at a dinner party he mentioned that aardvark was Danish for hard work. “Copenhagen households keep them to clean the floors,” he said. Our otherwise intelligent friends, who hadn’t been to Denmark, believed him.
your evergreen forest
knit from pine boughs and hemlock
frayed by even the gentlest winds
without the swell of your breath
to shelter beneath
roots loosen quicker than I can tie them
slipping through my fingers to tangle
deeper into the earth
still, I forage in circles