by tobias crabtree
I gotta start with a little story. My friends Nick and Elizabeth used to live in a yurt in Prescott, Arizona. They lived below some folks who had a little boy, I think I remember his name to be Henry. It don’t matter what his name was, he was damn cute and stern. I think little Henry liked me. I was around a good deal, often with my shirt off and in shorts. When i left once he told my friends and his mother that I was, “beautiful and nakey.” I may be making up the beautiful part, but I’m allowed, because this is my story and if I want to pretend to be beautiful, I will. I wonder what little Henry’s doin’. I hope he’s looking at the stars or something cool like that. Nakey is cool.
These days I can lie in bed and make a fist, put it behind my back crack it. I’ve been told by the ones-that-tell-you-these-things that I’ve got a good case of arthritis in my back. I don’t like the sound of that so I ignore the words and I say I need to stretch it on out. And I do. I stretch it on out, and I crack my back with my fist.
I ignore a good many of the things told me. I ignore the words of the folks who tell me not to listen to sad music, that it’ll make me depressed. I ignore politicians. I ignore the words I love you if they come from someone I don’t know. Maybe ignoring that many things categorizes me as ignorant, but if it does, I’ll ignore that too.
Last night I climbed in my sleeping bag after some tea, it was late for me and I felt the cold creeping into my bones something fierce. Great billows of steam rose out of my mug, rolled out of my mouth and nose. Click of the light. Ringing in my ears, ever-present gift from the military. Wool blanket over the top of my sleeping bag. Naked in the dark, under the weight of the blankets and bags, I realized I needed to take a leak. Life is like that, the order of events goes as it goes, not as we want it to. So I roust myself to the inevitable. Unzipping and flinging and barefooted and naked, out into the night. Relieving myself and in full shiver I looked up at the moon, she was pink with a complete ring around her and I’m pretty sure that means something. I try to remember what I’ve been told, it was either that you’re supposed to make a wish or that weather is coming in. I cover my bases and choose to wish that weather is coming in, that way I can believe both things are true.
The cedars, firs and ponderosas stood, towering above my little dolphin and my naked me in the pink moonlight. I felt them looking down, they are family, so I’m good with feeling small around them. My ears adjusted and I picked out the plaintive call of some bird from out in the dark. Sounded like an owl, and I allowed myself the memory, even so cold, even with the down bed and the woolly blanket so close, I allowed myself the moment of collection. And these moments are very much like the wondrous assortment of stones that lie in the shallows of some backcountry stream, they are there for you if you have the time to sort through them, to find the one that catches your eye and pulls you to pick it from the millions. And into your pocket and into your mind.
And leaping and dancing across sharp rocks and pulling open my door. Big puffs of breath in the dark. Bare butt first, into the bag, dirty feet into the darker, stinkier end. Time doesn’t matter one bit. The day of the week is whichever it wants to be, I don’t care to know. It’s been days since my phone told me anything and I don’t have a single question for it. One sad song before lights out, just one. I pick it out and put it on. In the dark, something about lost and broken things and the begging of another to remember when things were the way they were before the losses, before the endings.
The song ends and that’s it. Back to the ringing in my ears mixed with memories. I think about me and how I trip over impulses and desires. I ask myself how I could possibly ever be cocky, as if I was something special, when I live in a world that has pink moons and 100 foot cedars and little owls that call in the night.
Somewhere there I fell asleep. It’s icy gray outside. The ring around the moon allowed a wish to be true and the weather is here. I walked up the mountain on some old logging trail and followed the tracks of a black bear as they meandered like a dog from log to stone to puddle. In the deep mud I could see where she had stopped and thought it over. Dreamy bear thoughts, deep green pools and fields of summer berries and dark timber with snow piling and the big, heavy winter sleep coming on. Suckling cubs. Fat, earthy grubs. I reached down and put my index finger in the center of the paw print, pressed perfectly in the mud. The hum of life still present, to me at least.
Back to camp I use that same finger to tap away on my computer. It seems almost irreverent. From the print of a beast so grand to the black keys of my little silver device. There is coffee black in my mug. There is frost on all the ferns. There are ravens in the trees and a billion stars on the other side of the clouds above the world. There are things, so many things to be bowed to, things that don’t need keys or power cords or investments. If only I had the grace to find the words to name them.