On death

We turn one corner closer to home as the horse trailer rattles down the dirt road behind us, pulled by the same truck we’ve been driving since we first made a family. Dust kicks up a wake as the view of our little piece of the mountain spreads wide open before us.

We ride along in our own silence. What can we talk about that would distract us from this changing view? We are not supposed to comment. It’s all been said before. We should be used to it by now. Perhaps we should not notice. But we do.

What are we supposed to feel? Nothing? Never. I turn my head and see the dying from another point of view.

Death descends on the mountain. Some days we think it’s just the light. We sit at the kitchen table and look through the wavy old glass panes and think maybe it isn’t so. Perhaps we’re just looking for what we know will be. Browning trees, starting at ridge line, sinking down draws, wrapping around the mountain from the beetle killed back side into our view. The green fades. An amber glow of evening light halos the trees even mid day. The beetles are taking our side of the mountain.

It’s a natural cycle, I read. Does that make it all right to see our hillsides dying? And all we can do is sit and watch the hillsides fade.

There is no one to blame but the beetles, and they feel no remorse. I feel so much.

Death, oh death, descending the mountain like a heavy brown veil taking the green needles away in the wind, a blanket under foot as our trails become lined with what was once vibrant life.

I shed tears like needles, and they fall just as plentiful, just as silent, with no one there to hear.

It’s natural, they tell me. So is my anger. And so are my tears now blending with the summer rain and soaking into the opening hillside of dying trees.