Thinning

When I finally realized that people are just pieces of newly broken stone tumbling downstream in the flow of time, I began to hope that I could be smoothed into something shiny and beautiful and then roll onto an exotic beach to glitter forever. But I see now that being shiny doesn’t last and I’m well on my way to dust.

God laughs and then sneezes. “See how powerful you’ll be?” She blows her nose and wipes her eyes. “Dust allergies are the worst.”

 I ignore her, grab the ash bucket and a few of the dirtier rugs, and step into the wind.

“Don’t be afraid,” she says, following me.

The wind dies down, and river nymphs skim lightly across the surface of clear mountain water, moving without resistance toward the salty sea.

“That’s not quite true,” God says. “Nothing on earth moves without resistance. But it’s less at higher elevations if you can handle the thinner air.”

I consider the lungs of the sherpas, the gills of the shark. I remember watching the eye of the lamb I held in my lap grow dull as life lifted itself away. And I remember flying.

My days are filled with gleaning from piles of flood debris. I yank out planks and bent fence posts, drag burnable wood to the stove, intriguing wood to my gallery, and have a plan to bury the rest.

“Your gallery?” God chuckles. “Um, which surface or shed qualifies for that label? I’d like a tour.”

“Well, it’s a splintery, infested, movable feast, mostly in my head, mostly benign, but occasionally, I use toxic glue or graffiti paint and the fumes are outrageous.”

“I think I can handle it.” God grins.

“Oh, I wouldn’t ask you to,” I say. “Someday, I’ll have it all cleaned up and nicely displayed. I’ll serve muffins and Earl Gray tea.”

“No, you won’t,” God says. “But that’s just fine. Now, let’s take a look, shall we?”

I shrug.

We spend the day considering toxicities and redemptions, the wonders of fungi, the process of fermentation, and the fantastical cottonwood stumps with twisted roots and embedded stones, now tipped skyward. She’s not bothered by the disarray and in fact, she’s intrigued with the idea of making rainbows out of curved sticks. Tonight, we’ll share a glass of rhubarb wine near the flame, and she can help me decide which broken branches are worth burning.