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Archive for January, 2017

ancestors

From an essay I’m writing about Mary and the outlaw:

At the bottom of an icy hill beside the highway sits a heap of four or five ragged homesteader’s cabins. In the summer you might not notice them; they blend in with the tall yellow grass and the willows in a narrow gully. They look like part of the landscape. But in the winter they look neither natural nor man-made. They look like nothing anyone should live in—they look worse than haunted. Sick, chaotic, burnt-black against the snow. That’s what any kid who sleds there—as I did—is soaring toward at fantastic speeds. If you survive the hillside and make it to the bottom, the cabins themselves are the only things stopping you, and they do. You wreck into their sunken, splintered porches and slam against their mouse-ridden walls. Lying there, the wrecked old houses appear to lean over you as if to swallow you up.

Still, they’re flimsy structures. The sun shines through them.

History functions like this, to me. Ice forms over uneven ground, forming beautiful, treacherous shapes. Blackened boards piled high against the sun—threatening to consume everything within their shadow—can’t prevent the sky from slicing through.

 

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