It is good luck to collect rain water.

The smoke billows down. The rain is light in the woods.

There is mist one could mistake for smoke billowing down.

It brings good luck, catching rainfall.

There are reasons to stay in the forest and reasons to leave.

I am losing touch with my anxieties and I miss how much they comforted me, like I was altering myself to exist in the wrong place but at least it was an effort. Now there is just calm which means there is no communication between the senses. Just a being that is perceiving of the being.

Calm feels wrong.

If there is a goodbye that means I plan on coming back.

Without one, there is only an extended absence I intend to keep between us for as long as possible without either of us noticing.

Dirt is a smell I can believe in.

Each piece of wood I split is another piece to keep me warm. I feel sad when I put it into the fire, like we are losing each other in ways we will never regain. But then I see smoke billowing down on days when the rainfall is light and it must dissipate somewhere. Back into the trees, even.

Rooted in the soil.

The tracks in the brown dirt are deeper than footsteps in white snow. One leaves an impression like a ghost. The other presses into itself, a becoming. Something separate is pitted against something merged is what I did here as the smoke billows down, the rain still light in the woods. It doesn’t rain every day, but when it does, I smell the old soil and know I can give each piece of wood a name, I can taste—

—in this reality, I forget to breathe.

I forget what breathing is and that it is a thing I must do to survive.

The train takes me to work. I type and I type and I type.

There is a rock on my desk to remind me. I take my lunch breaks outside.

The purpose has been abandoned. The purpose has been forgotten in pursual of the purpose.

A forced remembering.

I wear my best clothes to work. At home, I drift in clothes that are too big for me, despite being made for kids.

One day I watch the train. One day I watch it take to work without me.

I wonder who will take my place. What they will do with the rock. Will they know its purpose by sight alone. Will they keep it as their own reminder of a life I have no access to.

When I finish reading, I look up. I am still in the bookstore, which feels strange to me.

I take note of my frenzied heart. The book still open in my hands.

I did not buy the book because I felt that would jinx it, somehow. I did buy the book much later but not from the same bookstore. I bought it because it was the right time for me to own it.

I could no longer rely on remembering.

Leaving behind the bookstore, I ran through the city, I caught the next train, it took over an hour but I got there and I called.

I wanted to tell you about the book. Not the particulars, because I wanted you to read it on your own, someday, when we had forgotten each other. I wanted to show you how the book made me feel, my reaction to its words. I thought of you then in the bookstore and knew that I had to go to you.

When we met, all the words were wrong.

I did not get to tell you about the book, and I never would.

I move through the mist of the woods and know this is a place I can keep and be kept in.

I think I like this earth more and more with every passing day. I don’t know how I will say goodbye. What it will be like when I leave. So I say it every day.

Ash in the snow. Everyone goes.

A nice home at the end of a long road.

If the kindling goes right, the smoke will blanket the evening star.

I breathe in and wonder how my friends are doing. If they even are my friends. If I even have friends if I’ve been gone for too long and never stay.

The rain comes. I go outside and shower. I hear a plane I cannot see, listen to a road with no cars.

I soap my skin. I use my hands as cups. I get water from the well and use a pail with light blue rope.

There’s stars above the mist. Cold setting in.

Smoke billowing down, the rain still light in the woods.

Every puddle a stained glass window. Every glance catching me with a smile.

Even light catches luck.

It catches hold of me.

I left it in the water for there was no more chasing after it.

Only feeling it all at once.

Originally published in the Eastern Iowa Review, “Evensongs” is a non-fiction lyric essay. It parallels the alienation & isolation of living/working in Philadelphia with the solace & solitude of living alone, without electricity, running water, or neighbors, in the remote woods of Sweden.

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