alexandra emberley


It was a long time ago - over thirty years. We were on a long walk-in to a new planting site, after a heavy rainfall. As we walked along a road of wet mud the clay clung to our boots, slowly raising us above the ground, a foot or more, until we had to stop and tear it off the soles of our boots, because we could longer lift your legs. I will never return to where I was that day. It was a place like no other. A burnt wood surrounded by old growth forest with a river that flowed nearby, rapid, deep, and alive. As I stepped into the forest, the facts of the size of the trees or the dense mossy footbed, or the strangle particles floating in the air, did not matter so much as the sound which I will describe as the sound of time. What I felt that day left an impression on my cellular imaginary. The word for it is sacred. Turning back to the large plot of land I would fill with seedlings which, if they survived, would produce a mono-forest of pine, which allowed the company that hired us to farm the future wood, and continue to expand its quota of cutting. Turning back to the burnt-out land, I see a dead bush covered with yellow moths - a bright shimmering mass. The image suggests resurrection or hope, but what matters to me is only that I know I was there, and that it happened. I have a few memories as potent as this one – those moments in which you are separated from all you understand, and are suspended in a place from which will never fully recover – like the day I was shot, or the moment my father died, or that day in NYC when I decided I no longer mattered, and wanted only to lose myself in the crowd of bodies, like those moths on a dead bush in a burnt out land.


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