August

Here on the coastal barrens of Nova Scotia the morning fog blankets the bramble and the sun struggles to pierce its cottony thickness. It does, though not without a struggle. Heated grass and pine unleash a rush of scent. The evening light, full of spindly arms of weightless colour. Then night falls and the galaxy lays out its spiral path in the sky over my meadow.

The air, the grasses, under rocks, atop trees, everywhere life is teeming. Blue Jays shatter my morning sleep with their deafening screech. Mice scurry and snakes lace their sinewy bodies through the tall grasses. My skin reflects all this life too. Red welts dot its landscape, the surreptitious kisses of tiny, unwelcome visitors I seldom see.

August, in its rushed laziness. One might miss the minutiae of it all.

And me, I am all too reminded of the coming end. Of season’s end. Of life’s end. My melancholic genes persuade me to contemplate those things whenever I get too high or dance too close to ecstasy. It puts a halt to my reverie, and in no uncertain terms.

And I think. I think of the earth, now endlessly battered and beleaguered, deforested and commodified. Of ocean, with its calcified coral cities now draped with suffocating algae. Of humankind, in endless enmity with “the other.” Locked in ignorant-borne hatred, until their hearts transmogrify into icy granite. Of the cloaks of privilege I don each day sewn from skin, and gender, and religion, and geography. A patchwork map of luck, banality and misfortune. I think of those beloved, now gone from the sphere I inhabit. Some lost recently. Some lost long ago. Their faces bless me, haunt me, elude me. Fortunate, perhaps, to no longer be locked in this orbit of birth and destruction and rebirth and annihilation.

Then, between stinging tears and slumber, the moon lifts its bloated face above the horizon. First slow, orange and blurred. Then open, and bold, and the colour of new snow. Lifted out of that prison cell of my forgetting. Like it vanished for half a day and then was re-created of salt, and stone, and God dreaming. Another dance of celestial distance repeated, as if scripted.

And I feel this ethereal flight of mine, sucking the wind out of my lungs. Frightened to catch that breath; as if doing so might shatter all of this to pieces.

Kenn Orphan, August, original prose written in 2017.

*Photo is of the evening skies over the coastal barrens and forest and out toward the Atlantic Ocean near our home in Prospect, Nova Scotia.

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