BABEL

or The Winter Bloom

What a strange confusion this unseasonable spell incites; maternal barks bear buds on tired boughs and the woeful world turns out of time.

 

Not yet a silhouette against this dark, November sky, twenty-odd feet above an overgrown clear-cut on a nearby slope looms a blackened flue, an ancient chimney of river stone and crumbling mortar. In mourning or prayer, clusters of smokey Oregon Grape pods bend their bodies, their naked and dripping stalks in its direction; from dust to dust, the world’s heard, though here — at the base of this ziggurat— dust turned mud even before the flood.

 

What a strange confusion this unseasonable spell incites; yellow blossoms bloom atop deadened stems; what a strange confusion.

 

What is the language of the world? Some say — and some say often — that it is Love; does the Sun speak Love, as well? If so, the Sun is a brutal sort. What loving Light would demand the loving world preempt its given season? What loving Light would call to its receding self the life of a distant Spring? Perhaps the world misunderstands. Perhaps the world answers a call not issued; perhaps the Sun misspoke. Regardless, the hemisphere is waking far too early; there will be much death. 

 

The conifers are black here; I find that comforting though others are unnerved. Today I walk only with my brother, and he marveled as much as I at the absence of the home; amidst a thirty-acre patch of soaked earth and cut branches stands this stone tower, and nothing near hints at the home we both infer once stood here. Stumps with sixty rings each stand and lean near and against the chimney; how ever was a house here? Whose lives passed before these gone trees took root? 

 

Circling, Cody presses his palm against the wet stone and remarks on the moss; the sound of briar vines slicing at his shins captures my attention. With each step his boots relocate size 13 patches of wet clay; mud splashes beneath his footfalls and paints the yellow grasses an even graver gaunt. His motion and noise flushes two shaggy wrens; each leaps from the crevasse at the base of the chimney in opposite directions; each with a squawk; each settles into the flat light of early dusk; chatters emanate from multiple directions and continue as Cody circles; the birds fail to reunite before we depart, judging by their confused vocalizations.

 

Why are there buds on the barren branches? What a strange confusion this unseasonable spell incites. What a strange miscommunication; what a tragic misunderstanding. The world puts forth life in the face of death, the universe offers — still and coldly — only death. Winter is imminent and the blossoms bloom for naught; east winds will blow through the Gorge; ice storms will come; wet snows will blanket the clearing; the days still shorten, three minutes each evening; life still calls out for a departing sphere; that which holds the warmth cannot make sense of the plea. 

 

Why does the polylith still stand in the clear? Maybe to scatter the signals, to divorce the dialect. 

What a strange confusion this unseasonable spell incites.

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