The Lake

you have so many freckles
and your skin smells like chocolate.
Last month it smelled like oregano and coffee, but now you smell like chocolate
milk chocolate
like milk chocolate dust
hot chocolate powder
eaten by the spoonful
dipped in water

You are perfect. You do not think that you are perfect because you have imperfections. But your imperfections are perfect, too. You are as beautiful as an heirloom tomato or a delicata squash or a speckled egg. I do not mean perfect like a red delicious apple because perfect like this does not exist. If you bite into a red delicious apple you will know it is fake- your teeth will break off, because it is made of plaster. All red delicious apples are made of plaster, and waxed to make them shine, and sold to children in school cafeterias who break their teeth off and cry, and swear to never eat another plant.

Your body is a lake, and I want to live there. Your body is a perfect lake. It has a ragged edge and clear waters, and the sky is filled with stars. I have a small wooden skiff that I push out onto the lake. I’ve brought some Brussels sprouts cooked in bacon grease and I lay in the skiff and watch the stars and eat the small brassicas and feel the water rock me. I drop the Brussels sprouts into the water for the fish to eat. The lake smells like wet leaves and tannins and something that quenches thirst. The ducks are sleeping with their ducklings. I’ll live here, in this lake that is your body. I’ll build a cabin on its shores. I’ll visit the cabin every day and sit on a stump and feel the winds from the forest. I’ll breathe in and out. My thoughts will empty, and instead there will be the music of small bells ringing. The sun will be setting and I’ll touch the grasses, the smooth rocks, the water. The trees made you and you are a lake.

I am broken, I am failing. I am weak, I am small. I am not strong. I feel heavy. Things happen for no reason. The more I try and understand them, the farther away they get. Weather, feelings, tornadoes in my organs. I look inside myself for answers but there are only riddles, mysteries, the metaphors of life. I want to ask you, can’t we live in your body, where it is always calm and there are no words. Your body is like the trees, I want to stay there, safe.

I miss the forest. I miss the forest so bad. I miss the slow ways the boughs of the trees move against the sky and I miss the way the trampled needles feel soft under my feet but most of all, I miss the air. I miss what is in the air, the breath of all the plants, the respirations of the leaves and mosses, the indescribable smell. The oxygen. The intangible, living spirit. I think, these December days, of the winter I lived in a yurt on the Olympic peninsula. I had a winter garden of kale plants and sometimes it would snow. The yurt was un-insulated, and the firebox of my woodstove was small. I had a dull ax and a crooked chopping block. I was mostly by myself. At night I had the stars for friends and would hear the elk huff, just outside the circle of my porchlight. I was incredibly lonely and ecstatically alive. I would run on hard dirt logging roads and sing, waving my hands in the air. I would try to track coyotes.

This winter is not that winter. This winter I have love, companionship, the city, and a better woodstove. The city feeds me in some ways too but it also confuses me. I understand the forest better, its clear relationships, its abundances and scarcities. I do not understand the city. I do not understand what I am supposed to love and what I am supposed to despise. And I don’t know how to hate it without also hating myself. I want to run from it, but I cannot. But you are made from the forest. If I put my ear to you it is like listening to a seashell to hear the ocean. You have the forest inside you, and the teawater of lakes, and the sound of wind chimes, and wind blowing through grasses. You have the fish and the sky. The small flowers that take seven years to bloom. You have all the magic hidden inside of you, and I know I have it too. But I cannot feel it so I want to ask you, can we just live in your body, because you are ringing stronger than anything, you are a bell ringing in this matrix of rock and dust, you are a bell ringing in the electric night, ringing and ringing and ringing, you are the forest.

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