After eating I feel fatigued (don’t ask why) and so instead of going to hip-hop dance class I lay in the hammock and try and soak up the beauty as much as I can, I am too tired to read my book about birds’ nests in winter. The sun is warm and damp and angled just-so and I put on my sunglasses and push against the hard ground with my foot and the brilliant pink, woven patterned hammock whose pattern I will never, ever look closely at, just another thing made, just another thing detailed- moves back and forth in and out of shade, beneath the fig tree and I can see the squirrel dash along the fence posts with a walnut, he is gathering walnuts, he is looking haggard, I think back to this time last year in North Carolina, I was gathering acorns and making acorn flour, I was skinning a roadkill squirrel, I think of the strong muscle of his thighs, like a catapult, a bundle of steel springs, a grasshopper. Earlier I saw some birds go into a nest in the high leafy bush and fight. I do not know what birds because I know nothing about birds, I do not know what bush because this backyard is a veritable jungle of exotic species. Oh high leafy bush, oh fig tree, oh trapeze- from where do you come?! Somewhere there is a plum forest, I think, remembering Wednesday afternoon biking back from the naturopath in Sellwood when I stopped at Michelle’s house to gather plums. Two trees, so much fruit it is obscene. Like some sort of sick joke, a year’s worth of fruit in three weeks. And the whole world, suddenly, is running in slow motion, running, running in slow motion, hands outstretched, mouths open, burlap sacks thrust forward, jaws churning at a glacial pace.
A plum forest. Wherever is there such a place?
Soon I am too tired to lay in the hammock, even, and so I go in my shack in the garden and lay on the bed with the country-music radio coming from the neighbor’s backyard and he’s tearing up with his circular saw like power tools are the new late-summer afternoon wind-chimes. I have a new pillow that needs trying out anyway, I think, I got it today and so far it is soft enough. Then I change into sweatpants because structured clothing has become too difficult, really just beyond me and I think- is this what it feels like to be depressed? But I’m not depressed I’m just fatigued, and I don’t know why, at least I don’t know why yet, but I’m collecting vials of my spit at morning, noon and night with the little kit the naturopath gave me and in two weeks when the lab results come back, then maybe I will know why. I hold my wrist against the ceiling, my thin wrist against the dark wooden ceiling, I have injured it again. I injured it in March when I first got to Alaska by trying to set some sort of personal wood-chopping record, standing ankle-deep in the new snow, woods quiet around me, sunlight dancing on the white birch bark, I had finally, for the first time in my life, figured out how to split huge rounds, the huge rounds that we pulled through the woods, one by one in our plastic sleds- they had been sitting here at the woodpile gathering snow, and I had finally figured out how to split them into stove-lengths and so I did it triumphantly- and all that maul action vibrated my wrist all to heck but I didn’t stop and next thing I knew it was injured, didn’t feel right again for three months. Now I have re-united with my bicycle and it has injured it again. I rotate my wrist against the dark wood of my ceiling and I just don’t know what to do.
I planted a kale garden last week. Just kale, nothing else. Twenty-four little starts in a raised bed in the side yard. Now I look at it and when I’m looking at the kale I see the raspberries, hanging ripe and drunken in the last rays of afternoon. Barefoot, I step across the kale bed and pick them one by one, shining and perfect and red, and put them in my mouth.
These are magic raspberries, I say, in my head, as I pick them. These magic raspberries will cure my fatigue. These magic raspberries will cure my wrist. And I imagine the blood swirling in the pale mechanical inner workings of my wrist, all those fishing-line ligaments and slivers of bone. Circulation! I summon the blood from within me. It’s pulsing, it’s swelling, it’s making new cells, it’s fusing all together. I know this is what needs to happen because Kristi had the very same thing happen to her wrist back in April, when she over-did the pick-axe at her electrician job, and she went and had it x-rayed and that is what they told her- that it doesn’t heal, it doesn’t heal because there isn’t any circulation in there, only pale white tangles of tendon and bone, no blood at all, and any little thing can break and it doesn’t ever, ever heal.
This raspberry will cure my wrist, I say, as I turn one over in the light, standing in the kale bed in my sweatpants, and examine the glimmer of snail-trail on its side. And this one will cure my friend’s wrist, I say, as I add another, this one soft and fermented like wine. And this one will cure my fatigue, and this one will cure my friend’s fatigue, as I add a few still firm, intact, like twelve-year-old farm children before pesticides and mountain-top coal mining. And this one will cure so-and-so’s irritability, I say, and this one will help this other friend with her depression. And I lift up the canes and pull the berries off, and I think- It didn’t used to be this way, I think, I remember it used to be easier, and this is like a mantra I chant upon waking, when I button my shirt-buttons, grease the cast-iron skillet, rummage in the fridge for eggs, make my to-do list that only grows, and never gets smaller, and I realize then that wishing my to-do list was smaller is like wishing my life already over- I remember it used to be easier, I remember it used to be easier. And it’s too much, I think, the weight of you plus the weight of me, and we can’t help each other, we can’t help each other anymore.
And I can almost see the letters, there, in the periphery of my vision, as I lean into the raspberry canes- block-letters backlit against the late filtered sunlight, they would be, right there, sitting atop the wooden fence, and if I looked- and if I looked I would never be able to look away, and I would burn up – W H A T W I L L W E D O , it would say, but I won’t let myself look, I won’t let myself see that it’s there.