alexandra emberley


It was a long time ago now, over thirty years.

We were on a long walk to a new planting site after a heavy rainfall. As we walked along the road, wet clay clung to our boots raising us a foot or more above the ground until we had to stop and tear it from the soles of our boots because we could longer move. 

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 size of the trees, the dense mossy footbed, or the strangle particles floating in the air did not matter as much as the sound. What I heard that day left its impression on my cellular memory. The word for it is sacred. 

Turning back, I saw the large plot of land I would fill with seedlings which if they survived, would grow into a mono-forest of pine.The planting of that forest would allow the company which hired us to farm the future wood and also expand its quota of cutting. 

Turning back to the burnt-out land, I saw 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 was there. 

I have 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 you 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.

April 10, 2023


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