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I imagined I saw you today out of the upstairs window. Your cowl had slipped off your head, and you were fighting uselessly with the wind to put it back up again. The recently fallen leaves around your feet likely understood the inevitability of your struggle.
Your habit, patched and torn and patched again, was the same dull grey as the maple tree under which you stood. I almost missed you, but your stigmata were bright red flares that caught my eye. I wanted to ask you so many things, but I decided not to come, to stay inside, and I can’t take it back. So here is a letter for you, tucked into the hollow of our maple tree, in case you return and I’m not here. I’ll leave it just above the place that you were standing, where a few red leaves cling to the flaking tree bark like the wounds on your hands.
Day - Fall - Defeat - Winter - Wind
Seeing you out there on such a day, when fall is about to concede defeat to winter and the wind howls like the coyotes in our woods, reminds me of a longing I’ve been feeling. Longing seems to be an active, unarticulated sort of restlessness. Maybe melancholy is the gloominess of a long-term, unfulfilled longing.
When I was a twentysomething and in grad school in Scotland, I took a road trip to the northeast tip of the country with my flatmate, Jen. We met our painter friend Genevieve at a castle near Wick, right on the North Sea. Genevieve’s oil paintings were hanging all over the cottage where we stayed: haunting, otherworldly pictures of rooms with trees growing out of the middle of them. It was as if her canvases were precise renderings of the feelings this place had evoked in
me from the moment I stepped...
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