Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I think this is still a work a in progress. It began as a stream of consciousness exercise. This is only the 2nd or 3rd edit.
WUS-KWI Is the name of the place where the white birch tree stands on the beach and welcomes you back every summer.
It marks an invisible gateway to the sand, and the water, and the sun. Only the pure and true heart passes.
You haven’t been forgiven because there is nothing to forgive. The sin-tank is empty but
There must be callouses on your hands from climbing trees and hanging a hundred feet in the air with just one arm, and on your feet and toes from rocky paths and splintery docks.
Your skin must be browned and your hair must be bleached with the sun.
You must smell like the water and move lighter than a breeze. Yours is the surest step.
You must be scraped and bruised and itchy and healing and whole.
You must be laughing.
You must jump carelessly and often into and over anything.
The sand is cool on your toes in the morning and burns before noon.
The water refreshes.
The lawn? is crickets and grasshoppers and your grandmother’s favourite flowers.
Every day tastes like butterscotch candies or scotch mints from your grandfather.
You won’t be done swimming, sunning, sanding until the summer ends, and it never will, but it always does.
The rain keeps you inside sometimes because sometimes you stay inside and these days coincide not because…
When they fall the rain drops are large and splat and warm and splat and you can shower in them.
And then the lake is warm on top and cold on the bottom but you don’t know this until you’re old enough to swim on your own and dive and hold your breath and even if the water gets in your nose and burns behind your eyes you still open your eyes and swim as hard you can to the bottom to get a handful of cold, cold mud and carry it like a trophy from the cold, cold depth to the warmest top two feet of water, when you realize you are shivering and then above the surface and…
You let the water drain from inside your nose because everybody is a fish now and nobody minds and you hold the pitiful small handful of mud to the sky to show that you can finally do it too and you see it is blacker and finer by far than any other mud you have ever seen and you drop it back into the lake. It filters back into the water. You wash your hand, blow your nose and swim in the warmest top two foot layer of water back to shore.
If you were your mom/dad you would swim back to shore underwater kicking with both feet like a strong strong dolphin or a shark or a musky or a pike, and grab one of the kids in the shallows like they were an unsuspecting baby duck. Then you would throw them into the air and let the water swallow them. After that any kid is your kid and they all laugh for you to throw them until your arms hang limp and they chase you from the water. Shivering blue lips cry for more and you run to your towel and your own patch of sun.
There is no time for disappointment.
And one day…Your little/big one comes dripping from the water and s/he warms on the big sun-warmed rock that you warmed on, a century before, that your mom/dad warmed on, a thousand years before, and your daughter/son warms on now, that their daughter/son will warm on ten years from now. Etc.
And they smile and sparkle with water jewels and you cry a little bit because they don’t yet know about Wus-kwi and the lifetime you gave to be here and if they knew, really, really knew, it would mean they were older and you were older and that somehow you had missed them getting older.
It doesn’t bother you to be closer to death
But every second of life your little/big one daughter/son is closer too
And the joy is sorrow so you take the sun fully in your eyes and don’t blink until no-one can tell the difference between the tears. The water sparkles.
You look and smile and ever wonder why your mom/dad…?
Then you spend your life in/on the water. Time the waves, know the sound of every boat, love the smell of gasoline, and wood-smoke. You know the difference in the smell of algae on a metal boat in the water, from algae on wood in water, from algae on rocks in water. You know the quickest way to remove leeches, can pick up crayfish safely and unsafely.
Eventually summer follows you through the invisible gate past the tree because…
You head up to the cottage, up the long wooden walkway your daddy and granddaddy and sister rebuilt when she could just hold a hammer and you could finally begin to be trusted to stand on your own. The steps were so big and you needed someone with a big hand and Big Voice Above You. Now the steps are one at a time because you are longer and stronger (and the favourite, but you don’t think so, but you know so).
You sleep in the boathouse and everything is warm and pine. It’s always pine but July-August warm is never cold. June warm is cold at night. August-September warm gets colder everyday until you leave and summer hibernates in your room until you come back and unlock it for everybody and run past the tree, Wus-Kwi, so it can follow you back.
Spiders. Spiders. Spiders.
One day you betrayed them and killed them on their farms on the window panes where they grew moths to eat and trade. One spider on each window pane 8 panes on two windows. They thought the agreement you made -they stop the bugs you don’t kill them- was forever but because summer ends (but not really) so did this
and now giant spiders are everywhere and you’re not afraid of them, but sad because you were wrong.
That summer of the spider treaty has never, will never end, because that was summer and it never does. Maybe you thought it was a different summer so you used chemicals and rags and wiped out only a few and betrayed so many. That was experience because…
If nobody is around the spiders will grow bigger than your hand, and you haven’t been around. Maybe they just miss you like everybody/thing else?
You miss them and they are empty and you don’t miss them and you are empty and they are you and you are empty.
Feed the ducks.
Ducks will eat spiders…and crayfish, and minnows and bread until they explode with poop. But they are not fish.
So the day you arrived, You had been there before, but this was the first time you saw the sign on the boathouse that said Wus-Kwi, and you asked what does that mean, and a big voice above you said White Birch, and you believed it because it came from a Big Voice Above You. That was where most big voices came from and so far you believed in them. You don’t know if that’s what it means but the first trees the big voices with the tall legs show you are all the white birch trees. Later on you know the birch trees don’t go all they way back to the middle of the island because that’s mostly balsam and swampy. There are many, many pine trees, and the first oak tree you ever realize is an oak tree.
There are rooms in the boathouse, one is yours, and the other is your dad’s but he snores and it’s too scary at night and the spiders don’t know you yet, so the Big Voices with Tall Legs make your sister’s room under the cottage into two rooms with a curtain one year. But the alligator scares you, (your grandfather shot an alligator(you think)) and the skin on the wall goes but it keeps the sleep it took away from you with it. You get another room underneath the cottage on the other side. You can bang on the wall and bother your sister. Your grandmother sleeps above you she can thump on her floor and wake you up in the morning.
Someday dad’s room in the boathouse is yours, after Grandaddy dies and you inherit summer (because your sister inherits it from him but she gives it to you) and Dad inherits Granddad’s room.
but not today and not forever
but when you are there and while you are there, you keep summer.
Once upon a time summer is your sister’s.
Because she is granddad’s favourite and she dances for him, and you do not do such things but he gives you both candy, but her first,
But. Granny likes you better so you get more bacon and served food before some other people. And when she is old and forgets everybody/thing else she never forgets you
And you don’t remember people or events for longer than a day,week,month,year so when you ask your sister Do you remember when? she is the first and for a long long time only one who knows you don’t remember like everybody else does but you memorize like nobody else can.
One day she says don’t cheat again or none of us will play with you. Already you can beat all of them but cheating is more fun at cards and games with money. But she has said so and then she will do so, so you try and try and try, and eventually you don’t cheat anymore pretty quickly. Everybody is smart and everybody is healthy and everybody is safe and you are arrogant but still slower (sometimes) but meaner (always) so nobody minds. But eventually you catch up, but you are not smart in the strangest ways. Like remembering and maybe holding your breath. And weaker but if you are weak and stronger than us, than we must be very weak. We think you are strong.
You sit still and figure it all out somedays after breakfast if no-one is around.
Then one day you feed the ducks and you know one picture is taken when you are pointing at them and sitting on the edge of the dock and luring them up the beach. That is the second picture
and the first picture, the one you didn’t know about, shows a shadow of the beast in the boathouse behind you.
Your granny knew about the beast and she was so tickled she could get a picture of the ducks, the boathouse, the beast, and you, without you making a face at the camera.
When you saw the pictures in an album you thought you didn’t know the beast was there too but...it is making a face.
It was tickled my granny could take a picture of me too. It still lives there.
You wake up one day past the gateway
and everyday after you sleep and wake there.
If you are you
you brought summer with you and it stays there forever too.
Every day you are fed and everyday you are loved and every day you wear exactly as much as you want to wear if the minimum is shorts and you are over the age of dressing yourself.
One time summer was sweaters, and one time it was bathing suits, and it always turned into…