I wrote the sentence, Petit Jean feels like Home; Montana is my best friend.
And then, talking with a friend, we wondered about the truthfulness of this statement – if there is a word for being rooted in multiple places. Even the trees outside Goodwill seemed to say, You belong here.
In some ways, this pandemic is a preview for the life Dennis and I intended on Petit Jean. We dreamed of early retirement: freedom for house-projects, time with family, pursuing creativity to unknown lengths – you know, living out our values on a mountaintop – growing food, and…
I also knew that I would need to list a rule of life (still haven’t done that) and tape it to every room, because the total lack of structure would contain landmines – too many invitations for existential angst or my foolish monetary value to society. Plagued by shoulds and shouldn’ts – the woes of my own privilege rattle inside my skull.
Just now, I heard a death groan rise from the downstairs den and wondered,
Is that music, or is that Dennis? Should I check??
I call out, Are you okay?
No, he mutters.
I rush to find him with a thumb partially peeled. The place that used to be skin is now a red oval.
Please be careful, I say while digging out ointment.
I am! It was just an accident.
Well, so was getting run over by a car.
The car I proposed marriage in. The car with a magnetic mustache on the hood. The car that almost killed Dennis.
This morning, I pulled a dead toe out of a pot and then realized the ashen nub was an overwatered cactus. I’d personally like a new foot and a more confident urethra. These sentences have nothing to do with this poem except they’re true.
Don’t get sentimental. It’s just stuff. Just bones and fingers, flesh and pettiness. In the end, I have words, rituals, and enough food – sighing as I dump questionable possessions into a box.
And then, the charnel ground peppering the U.S. – each morning, I drink from a fire hose and barely swallow the enormous, preventable losses. I stand on the sidelines, gobsmacked by our culture war. Or, maybe I’m there in the middle – it’s hard to tell.
I’d rather pick my way through a scrub forest and learn the art of wildcrafting. To seek refuge inside a hollow tree. Surely there is a place, perhaps near a silty stream, where confronting reality isn’t required.
Throw it all away. Let the empire become something new: body positive and nourished by all-you-can-eat vegetables – stocked full of no-fare, electric buses – easy access to those trained in medicine – plenty of art & literature, of course – and, most of all, gathering places for the sharing of ideas, dreams, and good intentions.
As I avoid packing, I drop prayers wherever I go. Oops, I left one there at the Wendy’s drive-thru. Oh, there’s one by the duct tape. And one over there, next to the recycling bin.
The skill of tidy sewing has never been within reach, so my civic duty is trying not to lose my shit. Give me resolve not to panic when a thud echoes inside these walls. May peace wash over me as I clean my hands or walk to the mailbox or parse out the meaning of home. May the God of my Understanding not disappear into the dark folds of the hills I drive away from.