Sunday, March 13, 2011

Siegfried


The truck is a ’94 Toyota. Its exterior is the color of dead leaves on the ground, layers of beige and brown. I sit inside and spy a plastic sculpture of Buddha duct-taped to the dashboard.

“You have to rub Buddha’s belly before we leave,” he tells me. I do. He shifts into reverse.

It started with a promise that had nothing to do with Toyotas, or Buddhas, or dead leaves. It was before all that, but after most everything else.

Here it was: to be the one who would solve the unsolvable riddle; the Siegfried who would slay the dragon, defeat Wotan, and walk through fire to wake Brünnhilde, the sleeping warrior-goddess, with a kiss.

It’s in the dry sound of wood being stacked in the cold, North Country air. The grind of tires as a four-wheeler careens through snowy backcountry on an island no one’s ever heard of. It’s in the crackle of a wood stove, the sensation of hand on hand in the early morning before I quite know where I am.

The old man from down the street tells me not to give up. “If you think you can’t do it, you’ve got to.” I look around at the rubble of more than a quarter-century of living and see a world of magical people I dared not choose between, lost in Zeno's paradox forever. The earth moves around me. I put a pile of books, a shawl, and several changes of clothes into a bag. I look at a plane ticket; trade Redwood for Redwoods. A blank, marbly composition book sits next to me. I pick up my pen and begin to write.

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