Her Balance. (14.1.19)

This piece won 1st place in the Dungeness River Audubon Center’s High School writing contest “Tales From The Trails: How Do You Connect With Nature?” on February 19th, 2014.

It was a grand moment for me, a huge confidence boost in my writing, and it is still something I am incredibly proud of.

She feels the rain touch her skin, watches the way the fog ebbs and flows around the darkened crevices between the buildings, down the alleys and around the legs of the men who exist here in the between. It wasn’t raining, the fog barely felt moist as it touched her leggings. No, the rain was just a memory fading, reminding her to renew it before it faded completely from her mind.

Her heels clicked on the pavement as she moved down the alley between the buildings on the block where she worked. The rain on her skin meant she was tired, that she needed to get away. It meant her core was failing her, that she was losing her perspective and her balance. It reminded her to go back to the place that could heal those losses.

The next day in her apartment, a person couldn’t hear silence. The fridge hummed, the traffic and the people in other apartments contributed their voices. The phone she kept with her always, when she was in the city, sat abandoned on the coffee table. Its calendar had been cleared for two weeks, so it sat silently, waiting for its next command of how to alert its owner. The owner who wasn’t there, who wouldn’t be back for two weeks.

She stood in the silent morning. She watched the trees and the sunlight mountain beginning to be brightened. She played with her breath in the cold air, making puffs of steam, trying to make shapes. She was wrapped in a simple pair of rugged pants a practical camisole under a thick flannel shirt. Her feet felt clunky and weighted in a pair of huge hiking boots. A backpack with the day’s supplies sat ready on the edge of the stairs leading off the off white porch. She envied the man who lived here, who saw this every day. She was glad though, that he went into the city for a few weeks every now and then to take in the noise and get supplies, see the movies and keep up a bit with society. Because when their retreats coincided, he let her rent his cabin, to see the beautiful backdrops to her peace.

She stepped off the porch, grabbing the backpack as she went, just as the sun touched the first tips of the trees on the mountain. She followed an old worn path into the woods next to the cabin. She never spent much time in the cabin. She made her meals early in the morning, before dawn, then spent most of each day hiking. At night she came home exhausted, and fell into bed, barely caring to take off her muddy boots. Sometimes after a particularly exhausting and dirtying day, she’ll strip down to her camisole and a pair of soft shorts before crashing into bed.

The time she had spent in these mountains, she spent learning and exploring. She knew these mountains well, and they shared mutual respect for each other. Today she walked out to an edge of the mountain where the trail looked out over a deep valley before stopping for breakfast. Then she walked along the trail as far as she could before collapsing for a rest and for lunch. Then she spent the afternoon exploring the forest. She was always careful not to blaze another trail when she explored. She made deer trails perhaps, but nothing any more invasive than that. When she first came here, she was afraid of getting lost, but as she learned about the mountain she learned that it offered dangers, but that it also offered her safety. She felt the mountain liked her. It was more than a conglomeration of living things, it was a living thing that was built out of the living things within it. And this life liked her. It protected her from its most dangerous, and taught her about it at the same time.

Between the mountain, the fresh air, the walking, and the heavy boots, after just one day, she was already feeling more balanced and centered than she had before. She settled a few minutes later in a clearing. She was leaning against a tree, tired, but happy. Content. So many people talked about saving this kind of place. But they didn’t know enough to know what to do. And so many more people had a this place, or that place philosophy, wanting to destroy the cities to make way for the trees, or destroy the trees to make way for the cities.

But she understood that it was much more complicated than that, it had to be, because people needed both now. She needed both. Her eyes drifted closed, a small smile on her face. Confident in her mountain and in her happiness.

When she awoke a few hours later, it was dark, the only light coming from a nearly full moon overhead. She could see the fog shifting around the trees and brush. It reminded her of the fog of the city, except this kind of fog was the kind that healed her, not reminded her she needed healed. She stood up in the night air, stretching her muscles and reveling in the cool dew on her bare arms.

As she slowly walked along toward the path back to the cabin, she took in all the many shades of gray and green she could see in the moonlight. The colors shifted, the leaves moved, and a light breeze made the leaves shiver with anticipation. The night was cool, but the air was soft; it didn’t sting with cold. She could hear the sounds of the forest around her, and she knew that everything in the forest was alive around her.

When she was little, the forest was the place she ran to when she had a bad day; it was the place where she scraped her knee and didn’t care because it was too much fun to be in the woods; it was the place where everything was creepy or welcoming for each mood she ever felt.

This place, and others like it, were where she came to recharge. The city had it perks, but the forest had magic. And she couldn’t live without magic.

Brilliance’s Breath. Watcher Garden #14 (19.4.23)

Brilliance trapped in beggar,

Kicked in the shins too many times,

Finally remanded from the wealthy quarters,

trudging now.

This trellis something pretty, something warm.

Something to welcome her.

She settles beneath the friendly nature on spindly spines.

Descendents of the garden here.

To breathe.

Heat Reader. (19.2.14)

I hold my hand over his chest, just until I can barely feel the warmth rising from him. He lives, still as death, half his greenish pale body covered carelessly with a thin, stained sheet. I keep my eyes on that side of him, trying to ignore the gash torn through his other hip. I start to read his heat.

There’s a growl from next to me. “Faster.”

“You know it takes patience.” I say quietly. And he knew the shackles that weighed cold and solid around my wrists got in the way of the read. They all knew.

Though, I could still read faster than they thought. I felt he wasn’t dead. I felt the treatment path. They knew about that part. that’s why I was here, a healer heat reader is useful in keeping their armies alive in the fight against my people.

They don’t know that I can read his importance. His determination, and his hatred.

This man would be incredibly hard to kill. But this time it’s not a bad thing, not a thing I will have to fight. This time it’s exciting.

My keeper tugs my hand away from his body with the shackle. “What this one need?”

I duck my head to hide the flash of excitement in my eyes.

“Take me to the doctor, I must tell him something.”

. . . .

That night I sit alone, finally, in my cell. Legs crossed on the flat sleep mat, calm. My mind races, despite my forced outer calmness.

The man lying on the table this afternoon, he hated the army, the war, his superiors, as much as I do. He wants them to parish.

When I read his heat it wasn’t life simply life, death, or rot heat. I read his heat as the leader of the resistance.

Our Resistance. Salvation.

This man, I’m excited to see better.

To see who my partner in saving my world will be.

Rain, Catalyzed. Watcher Garden #8 (19.2.1)

Vast pool of information catalyzing into chains of molecules, the slime that pours itself from beakers. Found by a girl huddled in the corner of a street in the busy part of the town, where the suits and proper houses stand. Playing in a puddle with a stick or a finger, discovering the strands of water that hold themselves together with a stir.

The girl who’s met the spirits, who would know how to birth sciences, if only given the chance.

She stirs the water, its links finding themselves, information evaporated from the gardens and rained down upon the town.

Mechanisms not understood.

A misery to the one who sleeps in the street. Then a magic.

If she can understand the links, she can unlock the self she longs for beneath her skin.

Complications. Watcher Garden #7 (19.2.1)

Guesses perhaps, are the creation of a new path, for a new universe. Perhaps their guesses permeate our universe, soaking into constraints, shifting the tides.

Each then, walks amongst other universes, casting their own multiverses in their gazes, their speculations.

These complications, they do not stir the otter sleeping in a calm eddy of the quandary river running through the edge of the garden. The otter’s whiskers twitch with dreams, their paws curling about themselves in comfort.

The Loan Beach Walker. (13.7.9)

The night is still, silent as motion can be. A silver moon hangs low across the water, casting it’s light over the rippling waves. They crest at the beach and break over the dark sand. Rocks and seaweed are light against the black sand beach. A sea wall up the beach a way, now the end of the beach, stacks logs against it and things live there. Things besides the children of the day in their imaginations as they play.

Things that you’ve never seen, things you couldn’t see even if you tried.

The beach is full of people in the day, practically swarming with them. They’re alright. They live behind the sea wall only a road and a sidewalk away, where the beach used to end. They put the concrete down and built the wall. They hold the sea at bay yet wish they had more contact with the natural. With something they haven’t touched. Only when they wade in the water and the kelp brushes their legs do they think about this, and then it’s only I wish I could see more, or holy shit, what’s touching my leg?!

Tonight the water is alone, the people are gone. The colors fade between blue, blue green, silver, gray, and black. The picture is layered, water, waves, crashing surf, layers of beach, logs, sea wall, and a jagged reaching of buildings and people’s creations behind it. The fence and gate keeping the sea from the people and the people from the sea are locked. No one should be here.

The beach is alone, nothing shares with it the space beyond the fence at this time. The consequences of such an action are severe, and no one should tempt the harsh government of the time.

The tall figure of a man walks along the beach near the surf’s edge seems to fade into the shades of the beach. He walks here alone every night, watching the sea and the surf. He knows this beach, every contour. He knows what the people bring to it, and he knows what they take away. He watches as it changes, and he feels a calmness the sea brings out in him.

As he walks, occasionally he stoops, plucking a piece of plastic or bit of fabric from the sand. With each thing he picks up and stows away in his bag, the line of his jaw tightens. A spark of fire lights in his eyes, and burns his soul to see the rubbish left here. This is his place to be himself, alone, with his thoughts and himself. Everything he sees is a personal insult, an affront to the sea.

He’s been a boy when the wall was constructed, he had been watching the men always moving things around, building, creating, destroying. Yet through everything, even when the beach looked its worst, it had been his. More than anyone else, it was his.

And no matter what the people did to it, the sea seemed to like them. To care about them, help them. And the beach was his, friend. He would help its task, and he would keep it safe, as much as he could. He and the beach, the man who walked along the monochrome layers of sand and salt and waves, and the water that rose and fell to his step, they were a team.

This piece was originally written for the Seattle Acquarium’s Creativity Inspiring Conservation creative writing course, and was displayed during their 2013 student art reception.

The statement written for the program:

I feel like there’s a deep connection between people and the environment, I think it communicates with us, and I hope it will get easier to find people who are willing to try and listen.