From the Tower


Writing down words, the paper stippled with snow. An ice sky, grey light wrapped into the trees. I am not concerned with communication anymore, the first step towards leaving town, emerging from the streetlights’ circles, the tense syncopation of tires and voices, headless sounds into the night, swooping with the day’s noise. It doesn’t make any difference anymore if someone walks by the tower, turns around, strains to see if the window is dark or if the lamp is on. The light isn’t on anymore, nothing is on anymore, the window is illuminated from without, a source similar to the sun or moon or imagination’s surly beams. Under the woodshed, a possum. Under the back shed, mice. Under the house, snakes and bees. Under the brush pile, maybe rabbits, more likely a fox or groundhog. Nothing is certain, the light is pearlescent. I am writing down words, stippled with snow, an expression of absorption. The material description is clearer. Words on paper, without exposure to the outside. Outside this tower. Where the windows lead if one were to jump quickly, catch the breeze, lift the clouds up higher and higher. An airplane passes. A space station. A craft from another galaxy. If pearls were uncovered here, they would be grey, their protecting shells undiscovered. A phenomenon of the imagination, likely refuted by the majority of the population. An undercover agent from downtown would not accept that proposition. Carve out an empire of words, superfluous when taxes rise and the wars multiple. The political scene is omnipresent, false hope, false glory, the credo of the victorious messiah, one who never was killed, never died, never performed out of body feats.


From the tower I can see beyond the immediate hayfield. A line of trees, the impression of a former stream. I know a rusted barbwire fence runs through the backside of the field. Chokecherry, sumac, honeysuckle, swamp willow, primrose, pokeberry, New England aster. Crossing the field is quick. The fox does it early in the day. No one is watching then, everyone is in the shower or the kitchen, listening to the radio, the TV, the computer. A nimble rough-coated animal, high on his feet. A darker companion, perhaps last season’s kit. I haven’t seen them since then. Then? I’m falling into those references without anchor. That’s too bad. No one can follow that, those, this, these, the politicians say. And the agents from downtown who want to measure the back plot, tax the front more, put in surveyor’s tags so the toads will know the limits, the snakes can turn around before, and we can all hover with the possum until the woodshed until the snow stops, the storms pass, the sun cools down. Blinking away former realities; existence remains on the frontline. Maybe the snowplow will straighten the street, redefine the terrain, cut a channel for the run-off. Or someone will boldly close this tower, shut the windows again, turn off the power, remove the rug, the table, the desk. At that point, maybe I will have snow words, there won’t be any snow-stippled words because there won’t be any paper. Requisitioned by the agents from downtown. The mayor’s committee on unproductive realities. The streetlamp tenders. No gas, no electricity. Solar. Warm and steady. Like the sun, or like our conception of the sun. Whose? Anyone who doesn’t dwell on the subject, brood on the fleeting nature of whatever is conceived, discovered, invented or created. With or without creator. We aren’t very strong, that’s clear. I’ll put some water on for tea. That won’t stop the imagination, though, it’s running away again, lost on a limb overhanging the ravine again. It’s green there and warm, winter has dissolved, but summer never and the soon returning autumn recalls spring and the first shoots under the ice. I’m still in the tower. The sky is pearlescent. Brooding. With the birds. The morning’s seeds, black on brown and white, smooth and cool to the beak. Someone scratched in the pine needles, indentations and small piles of dark bronze needles. A hollow space for the beak, for the claws. The woodpeckers are still in the pines. I haven’t seen them for days. Mysterious comings and goings while I pour tea, write words with a snowing pen, a white bleached plume of the sky that I can barely control. Electrify your house, they say. Put up solar panels, they say, you have so much light coming in from the field, they say. And I remain without disturbing the bees under the house or the possum under the woodshed, everyone is still sleeping, it isn’t that warm out, it isn’t spring yet, there’s a storm working its way up the coast now and the depth of the snow and the height of the waves and the burning, bewitching winds are moving this way. I’ll light the lamp again, set out the candles, move some wood inside, taking care not to uncover the hollow space, not to let the air in, the snow in, the wind whistle against the still sleeping grey possum.




Andrea Moorhead






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