nature writing part 6 (listening)
Posted February 4th, 2018 by Swallowtail
in new york/massachusetts
The woods here are sun dappled and lovely, full of bird song and the movements of small creatures, but underneath that they are utterly silent and empty. The earth itself sounds hollow, like everything I can see is a beautiful cover for an empty box. I stop here at the bend and step off the path. In sight, but impossibly far away is a ridge of stone, giant slabs turned on their sides by some immense force sometime impossibly long ago. I walk carefully through brush that winds around my ankles and tugs at my calves until I reach them. They are covered in moss and lichen and are an achingly familiar dark blue. I go to the edge, where they start to sink back into the earth, and climb over one. Here, all is quiet and dark, but underneath the hushed birds chirping from forever away the earth sings. The stones speak of all they can see, of the lives of all who have laid careful hands on them, of the slow movements of the earth beneath them. They are weary of time and sun and miss the rich darkness of soil. The trees whisper of all the shades of the sky, of friends cut down by lightning, of their fear of burrowing insects. I sit down against the worn deep stone and listen to the flowers. They are the most vocal, they cry of injustice and of their longing for the world. They reach up to the sky, straining to break out of the dirt, to escape from this everlasting punishment. Once they were just flowers, then they were human, and now they are something that somehow is both and neither. Sometimes I go and they are silent and bowed, tears of dew soaking them, but today they are ramrod straight and angry. All I can do is listen, so I do, and they sing a bitter song of ancient kings and magic, voices stinging with righteous indignation. When the song is over, I stand and wish this side of the stones well, then quietly leave this dark, busy wood of a thousand hushed voices for the loud emptiness of light.
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