Week 5. Sum of its parts

I read past landscapes in the fragments of trees, flowers, grasses, insects, sand grains, and anything else that falls into and collects in the bottom of lakes. The fragments are preserved in the mud, time laid out with the new on top of the old.

The landscape changes, has changed, even before bulldozers. Over thousands of years, even in the snapshot of the 1930s Dust Bowl. Persistent drought clears the land of tree canopy. Warmth in the mountains spreads canopy to higher elevations. And with changes in plants come changes in animals, insects, birds, fires. Plants are the landscape.

I pull mud from the lake – standing on ice, working through a hole augured out. Or, floating on a wood platform strapped to two canoes with a hole cut out. Once I hiked five truck tire inner tubes up to a mountain lake and strapped thin plastic sheets on top. We had to tie all the tools to the deck to not lose them when the water came up over our ankles as we pushed metal rods down.

My favorite word is “acetabulum.” It’s the curved hollow on each side of the pelvis, keeper of the femur’s pocked moon.

A few years ago, I learned that a sprain, a muscle spasm in the psoas (a muscle I’ve always thought looks like the modesty fabric Renaissance painters placed on Christ on the cross), and a tear int he acetabulum’s cartilage cause everything to un-join, drift apart. Ilia, ischium, pubis, femur: all lost ships. I had to wear a brace to force everything back together.

The doctor said it would feel like smoldering coals. To me, it felt like geraniums: slow bloom, bright and rude.


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