Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Roaring Plenties by Katie Heindl

We jammed beer cans down on the ends of branches, dead pines, young spruces, spread them in a wide arc in front of her old tree fort. There was deer shit everywhere coming down here through the woods, easy to spot on the electric green moss spreading crazy over each small slope, covering the rotting wood that crumbled underfoot, sponging down around my shoes and springing back up, even greener. The night before we took the ferry across the harbour, fog like an open mouth, to a basement country blowout and danced hopping circles ducking under low ceilings, choked on twang. The little rifle’s up over my shoulder when we jump the creek. “Aim high,” she tells me, “like one circle above the scope.” The cans spin when we shoot clean through, cracking the barrel down again and again braced on our hips, fingers going black at the tips from reloading. Smoke curls out of the nozzle and goes off in the wind. The platform shifts along with the narrow pines it’s jammed between, half of it is scavenged plywood the other birch branches. The thick nail points, driven through at all angles, worn smooth from feet and hands and legs for years. Out in the home-woods of a near perfect stranger, our territories get so fluid the farther from our fixed points. The echoes of these places call back the quick yelps and short, wild bursts of your own kid-shadow tearing through low branches, slapping them aside, howling after the friends you’ve marked as it, howling after chase. 

Four baby raccoons fell out of the ceiling into mounds of old insulation piled on the floor while the mother yowled from the newly bared beams and the swells of the Atlantic grew huge behind us. I wasn’t dressed for a demo but still, I held a sledgehammer. Punching out support beams at their base so they swung, like those narrow padded punching bags in a funhouse, from the ceiling. We yanked them down and threw them from the second storey deck, sawed them, hauled them down to the cliff with the tractor and set them on fire. The sky the kind of overcast that goes out for hours your eyes can’t differentiate. He was so proud, his chest stuck out amidst the rubble we were making. Smile under his dust mask so big it made the edges ride up to his eyes, the blue of them showing in slits, the blue of them the same colour as the barn he now owned, so lopsided we had to stay out of the one side of it or it’d tip. Your heart rate slows near the ocean, there’s proof. It sits back on it’s haunches and gets humbled, same as you. It’s roar-turned-tremor and moors of the moans it lashes tight cast off into the swell. I took an axe, I drove the tractor, I pumped the keg and ripped out walls with my bare hands and thought here, to own land at the very edge of all east, at least there was one place we could all wash up. The barn stood shoddy and I knew we stood the same and like everything, our foundation was shifting into the sea. 

Wandering their house like a love sick ghost, trailing the cats, pacing the painted wood floors. Meeting every morning square on at 6am on the wrong side of having slept yet. Fog comes through the window with the fog horns from the harbour trailing. Low slow notes that amble and bump their way around the dense vapoured air. I coil low in the blankets and feel the start of their lives together spreading out around me from every corner in this old house. Too big to take in my lungs. Noting how the room on the plank wood shelf within arm’s length from the shower fits a beer perfect and how many times I knocked the fucking cactus over off the night-table. How their clothes go together on the rack 7ft above the floor cause they are both giants, pulling them down and wearing them all at once, rolling around on the living room floor. The sense of your loyalty taking a rest under this roof and a deep breath instead. After these months it seems the hardest thing to do but you feel your body settle and your teeth part to a slowed pulse, your flag that’s been snapping for so long folds and you get your colours back from the wind. You wake in the dark from dreams where you’re there, snores from the body beside you, awake and asleep to the same sounds and the safety net of this place wraps the ragged tight out of you. There are times you need to feel your own power as hectic and loose as it can get, slamming the boat to all sides, hard to asunder. If you’ve lost the sense of what it means to go out at all angles and breathe jagged you lose the assurances of a feral capacity rooted down, shaking in your center, coiled and ready to spring at the word. We’re all teeth in the dark. 

The promise here, your friends and how they are. Thinking of all the nights our last words ended up in the Atlantic. Howling through the fog, the space between piers, time between beers, all the ways we’ve broken down and come back to the Citadel, it’s prodding soft slope lurching over the city. Our bold soft hearts like sponges in this dense wet air, salt rimmed and reeling. True to each other’s forms, tangled around and haunting these bright clapboard houses. All the blood we’ve left smeared mixing with the salt in the air, grey days we took for fortitude or just learning to make our own fun. Not many cities slope so sharp you can roll through downtown and end up in the ocean but then not many cities are like this one. I loved them all here first, gape-jawed and understanding the type of burn that takes up through you for good. Flinging their finally warm August bodies into Tea Lake, lagging behind to watch as they hopped rocks at low tide out to the ocean, the setting sun pummeling around their soft bodies and clear through your own back to the Crab Shack and thinking we are so young we are so goddamn young, while they feint the light getting burned in your brain as shadows you’ll remember well past when some looming dark scraps what good sense of memory you rattled around with as long as you could. We took blood here, we were all together. You can talk of coasts as defining but this one is ours.