Friday, March 24, 2017

45 Years of My Words Away
by Conrad Levasseur

So how do I write about something
that took 45 years of my words & art away?

Journals, articles, poems, drawings, paintings, manuscripts,
travel sketches, a library & research files, every letter
and post card from the three kids, Margaret, family, friends.

A gold rush mine of memory
that I wanted to dig into in retirement
to shovel, rake, sift, pan and separate
all the nuggets from the general debris.

After the fire…..
only the rammed earth adobe walls
still standing.

Everything else melted,
bent, pulverized into
soft, fine ash.

Even the half dozen
cords of wood
in the open field
that were chain sawed, split, stacked
neatly in geometric rows

patiently waiting through
the drought dried summer simmering heat
to perform their duty
in the Vermont Casting wood stove…….

as soon as the first beautiful
silver frost wolves of winter
came running down
the slopes
of The Sierra

now sit
but a handful
of delicate
fine ash.

The power of the flame
to totally dissolve
a refrigerator,
liquify glass
and melt machines.

All those hundreds of hours
spent getting beyond clearance
with the undergrowth…..
inching my way through
oak, manzanita, cedar, pine,
miners misery, poison oak, star thistle

NOW….. BEYOND--BEYOND clearance.

Every nook, valley, slope, hill
creek, drainage on the acreage

nakedly exposed
beyond all my years
of intimacy with them.

There were some ghost books
that lay on their backs,
binders spread open,
at a hundred and eighty degrees,

an accordion of pages
eerily beckoning
to be picked up
and played
one last time…..

collapsing with their final breath
when delicately touched
by a finger cautiously seeking
that final secretive tale.

Somehow family history
still clung to the walls……
reminding me of archeological sites
I visited around the world.

I first thought
of leaving the walls
to be buried
by moss, lichens, vines…..

a new forest monument
to my family living
for a short period together
at the edge of the grid

my mother's ashes
spread around the property
weaving a genetic thread
from the Old World to The New.

When Margaret and I drove back the first time
and got out of the car……both of us thought
one of us whispered, "The silence…….
it's so quiet here".

Unimaginably quiet……
beyond the cherished silence
that had nurtured us
all these years.

No tracks of squirrel, skunk, raccoon, bear, coyote,
mountain lion, wild turkey, wild pig, dog, cat.


One set -- one set
out of dozens before
of deer tracks
clearly imprinted
in the ash sealed road.

Of course,
the walls did have to come down
the land did have to be cleared

leaving an open, empty field.

A haunted forest?

Or, a fresh, new
Field of Dreams?

Yet to be written.

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