Where the Dust Settles

While he sits, he notices the cabin does not work well in all it does.  Its seal, if ever intact, is long broken.  The little house breaths with the outside.  The east window leaks, sweating cold into his refuge.  A slow creep of moisture steals between the panes.  But the place is not broken.  It's got cracked skin and a rickety heart, like lots of the old things we love.

He cups his mug and wants the burning.  To see where the scald stops going deeper, where the pain plateaus and he can sit with it awhile until it palliates, shushing a rabid dog.  He looks eastward, at the infinite lake.  This place looks like exile or a place for keeping dragons in the mist or a land for hermits, each and the other tasked with thinking on a problem for their king.  In fact, its just fog and water, northern pine, the slow slip of chimney smoke and cabins which are not broken.

He thinks kindness is learned in the quiet here.  He thinks elsewhere, where cracks and chips confer brokenness unto the beholder, the things are too loud.  The things speak without raising their hands.  They cajole for more space, more doors and closets, more shelving.  They want an attic, a garage stall, a new house in which to store themselves.  They make a game of their acquisition.  Their artificial voice, afforded to them in neon and polymer, not having been reared like ours in the dark of a once-timid larynx, regards itself an equal to prose, to poetry.  They crawl into lovers' beds and lie between them, where full hands make the holding impossible.

The things are quieter here.  They've been shown to their places.  A plate in the cupboard does not become a set of china, a computer, a pair of cars, a dream of more and fuller houses.  Rusty handles on the storm window sit as they should and listen.  He thinks, in the quiet, they hear humans becoming kinder. 

The scalding is done but the steam is plenty across his face.  There is no second guessing in this.  The vapor lifts, his hands scald lightly, he sits, the window pane wriggles in a slow, slow rattle, the world of lake and pine has snuggled into a gray blanket and the rain falls.  And all of it is right.  The rain is right and he, as it.

Better than his favorite seat, it is his most important.  It is where the dust settles.  It is where he stops running, to tally wounds.  It is where he sets down his load, spies the cracks and spaces between his pettier burdens and retrieves the gratitude he'd meant all along to extend to the world while he walked.  He examines it and takes his tools, a rock knife and a file.  In his fingers, he loops a strand of steam from his mug, and pinches a few drips from it, to soften the stone.  Its why his thanks often smells of coffee beans and cabins that aren't broken. 

He carves distant friends and good choices, that both may be remembered and returned to.  He carves bowls of good soup.  He carves young men that let old folks go first, and old folks that tell us their best stories.  He tries, often, to carve pure goodness, but always ends with a figure of patience looking at a figure of love and will pass an evening trying to score and meld them.

He carves a young fascination with passing women and a longing for good men.  He works for balance in his shapes and while his blade moves more slowly as he ages, he sits for longer and pilgrims more frequently to the cabin.  He dispatches excess shavings with light puffs and they flutter against the panes, where this evidence of his work drifts in layers on the sill.  It is his most important seat.  Carving his gratitudes in the land of dragons and hermits.  It is where the dust settles.

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