And I see my Dad raising each large shutter on the front of the hunt camp to the roof of the awning, opening the dim windows to the light and air. He stretches his arms overhead and, as he’s a short man, grunts as he laces the hook into the eye that will hold the shutter in place.
I sat in the cold Toyota with him one day on the drive to school and scolded him for hunting. Why do you need to hunt, why do you need to kill animals? He presses forward on the steering wheel and says he does it to connect with nature, to sit quietly in the forest, to hang out with his buddies. I think it’s stupid and hop out of the car into the slush and say bye and head into school.
Now I watch him load the wood-burning stove, turn on the propane tank, lift the shutters. He shows me where the tea is, the water for washing and the water for drinking. I ask him about the smashed bottles on the slab of rock the camp sits on, he insists they’re from the old farmers long ago, that more chips appear every year. I think to myself that the old farmers didn’t drink Coors Light.
Here, he is in a constant state of unpacking and unraveling. A constant state of repairing, of folding up. He says sit and be comfortable, breathe and listen. Stand up, awaken.
I dream on the bunk that this place is filled with a sweet exhaustion, with a cedar smoke, with a eucalyptus steam. I dream the walls are made of canvas and rock. I step out into the night and feel like a twisted bandage has ripped off my skin. I stand new and pink in the mist, under the stars like splinters of glass, blended into the layers of pine. I stretch like a point into the painted sky.
This is a place that is not yours but is composed of you. You slip between the grooves in the rock, between the needles on the branch, between the layers of fog and you breathe there. You collapse into particles and sink into the dirt, around the pebbles and roots, and you rest there.
Dad stretches up to unlace the hook from the eye on the shutter. Back in the car and you are awake.
Your breath is with you, your body evaporated. You and all the things of you are spread and swallowed, are soaked. As you drive home, you reach behind and press your fingertips to glass.