Literature

Feature Contribution from Canadian Poet : Brian Michael Barbeito

Photography by Brian Michael Barbeito

 

BLOOD FOR THE KNUCKLES, PENCIL FOR THE PAGE

(Are You a Writer or When Spring Withdraws Her Charms and Leaves You Alone with The Acrimonious Ice)

What shall you do now that your computer and technological devices are broken? You have no camera either, no little thing to prop you up, to focus you. Are you willing to hike when everyone has gone home or not come at all for the inclement weather? And can you write after on paper, with nobody watching, possibly even with a pencil? Maybe your knuckles are still bloody from the fall. If you use the proper pronouns and tenses and clean up the blood somebody might read it. You don’t have to be a good writer, or a good hiker, that is not what is meant. Better to be a bad writer and a shaky hiker than a good anything else. So here we go…

Clouds large like continents.

It’s daylight but it might as well be night. The clouds move in and make the firmament opaque, saturated with dark blue and grey but not the types from movies and poems no, some other manner that is somehow trenchant, ready to quarrel, up to no good as they say. To be completely honest, there is at the beginning in the distance a couple there under the wind and coming winter storm. They can’t be more than thirty, have a medium size brown or beige dog at foot, and are slowly walking around the other side. I head in the opposite direction, to the more solitary and winding and far reaching area. I glance one last time back in the direction of the lot and then the couple. They have stopped to kiss and the dog runs around joyfully, a naive mix of hair and ears and tail against the snowy earth. Kissing in this? They must be either having an affair or newly in love. Crazy.

Sooner or later you see it all…

The wind rhymes with nothing. It just sounds itself in one constant and continuous note.

I move in and can see that the few spring like days have made a dangerous mess out of the area. These are the worst possible conditions. What happened was that the snow melted to slush, hikers and walkers and canines walked on it and made hundreds if not thousands of prints, indentations, edges and crevices of every size and shape and manner. Then, if it had been real spring, there would have come next some more slush and mud and good old fashioned water. But the warm was just a glitch in the weather and it froze and froze hard over night. I kept walking and trying to stay to the sides in the hope that for some reason, somehow, it might get better. I mean, we were already there and into it.

It didn’t.

The lovers didn’t show up, which was good. It would be me and the hills and valleys and open spaces for better or worse. The wind reved itself up and I kept watch, waiting as I was, to see some solitary fox, rabbit, or coyote run by or look from somewhere in the distance.

Nothing.

A blackbird alights on a scarecrow-like tree and becomes part of the beach system.

I kept on and went up and down and saw a large valley almost barren of leaves and bushes. I could see into its secrets like an inspector of the cosmos. Little leaves brushed themselves here or there and sometimes one but often a grouping flew up a trunk or over a boulder and swirled ’round in the air just so before becoming unleavened again. These bits of things were dead yet the pre storm winds had resurrected and animated them.

Lazarus are the leaves.

You have to watch your footing. Every step. For my daydreaming and head poetry I had gazed into the valley too long and fell down a ridge tumbling like one of those leaves. Hands bloodied, ego harmed also, I got myself up and wiped the dirt and blood on my blue ambulance pants with cargo pockets and a knife turned to the inside latched on by a joined silver clip. Now they are blue and brown and red plus the snow is falling on them.

I find a summit and stand there. It becomes impossibly cold then as the temperature drops and I am in the open. Any slight romantic notion of ‘person in nature’ leaves. I am part of the wind and ice. I walk on after surveying the land for
miles in all directions. In the south I see tree lines where I have been on the inside and there are hidden birches and Chaga mushrooms harvested. It’s like a fairy tale in the summer or autumnal months. To the north are the hilly fields if fields can be allowed to be hilly. There are old fences and boulders, strange places in the middle where wildflowers grow tinted blue and adorned with bright pink and purple hues.

Worlds within worlds.

I walk more and do an odd thing. I open my wallet and pull out a coupon for a free coffee. There is a picture of the coffee and the steam rising from it. I almost slip again and quickly put away this remnant of the world and its comforts. Going along there I pause and look at the tree line that stands and watches silently where I came from. It’s barren branches make shapes of little gnomes, rare and unknown large birds, skeletal structures of creatures against the stormy and impossibly deep blue-grey sky. I inhale the wind that is coming at me, like Hamsun healing himself atop a train car. Prayers are made inside the head to God, The Christ, The Virgin Mother, Saints, Angels, Guardians, Guides, and Ancestors. For what? For life, for continuance all in all, and to be a part of the highest will and
movement.

I walk along and over more little hills and then go off the path and wander willfully atop snow and around logs. This time I touch the logs carefully and surely and for long times with both hands. One of the dogs comes up and sniffs my hand and thinks I have gone crazy. The other jumps up on me from the right side and is happy and dizzy with the entire idea and experience of exploring this winter day.

It darkens but I walk through a series of winter reeds light beige. They blow over and against me and shake on my legs and hips. I am soon immersed in the reeds. I baptize myself then, inside the reeds and by their song and dance, by simply being with them in spirit under the maudlin shadows of the cloud cover and the capricious ways of inner and outer weather I have come to know.

 

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