by Brett Ann Stanciu
- Light a fire. Stack firewood chunks too large for your little woodstove in the stone-fenced pit where your lawn meets a weedy slope. Invite your teenage daughter’s friend and her mother who arrive with their own folding chairs and a pasta salad dense with olives and artichoke hearts.
- See and adore the unexpected. In the summer twilight, while you and your friend muse about short-staffed jobs, and the local school board, and similarities between the American Empire and the Fall of Rome, the teenagers spy fox babies scampering at the edge of the woody patch between your house and the mobile home park. The kits bat each other with their plush, oversized paws and nip their siblings’ ears.
- Greet the unknown. Much later that night, you’re reading Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in your bedroom when your daughter runs in, alarmed, and opens your window. Someone is screaming outside. Without turning on a light, you step on your back porch. Beyond the porch, a stream cuts steeply down a ravine to the trailer park. A few lights glimmer through the thickets and woods. The sound might be a child being beaten, in pain. You wonder if you should call the police. Suddenly, you understand the cry is a fox marking her territory. How do you know this? You just do.
- Revel in the mysterious. You and your daughter stand rapt in the darkness, listening to the wordless language of the wild.
- Know your own scatteredness and your churning emotions — your single mother paycheck-to-paycheck hustle, your roaring rage at your children’s dead-beat father, your sorrow about your aging faraway parents, this pandemic that has boxed up your life and your daughter’s life into lonely cells — is a form of prison, too. All around you, baby foxes romp; their sharp-toothed parent hunts and marks borders. Your garden’s gladiolas fold up their long-leaved blossoms every night and spread wide their lush colors again each dawn. Between these white-clapboard human abodes of electric light and screens, our human places of rumpled beds and braided rugs and humming refrigerators stocked with cartons of ice cream and plastic-wrapped bacon, wild tongues chorus vigorously in that dim and fecund ravine. And while you sprawl with a library book in your solo bed, our dear planet silently and majestically moves on its path among the Milky Way and the luminous moon, half full or half empty, the immense heavenly bodies twirling in their celestial ballet. In that damp slit of a ravine, wood frogs sing and mate.
- Love that this all happens on your tiny Vermont village lot.
Photo by moncore via pexels.com