“April, are you home? Can you come over? I need a friend.”
I kicked up dust over the earth berm surrounding the house. The door opened and there were tears and it wasn’t clear until I stepped out onto the deck overlooking the forest – exactly what had happened.
“They’re all gone.” And it took me to hear it because even with it missing in my eyes I didn’t know.
“All of them.” And it took me to say it out loud to feel it.
At first, there was nothing but space inside of me and space out there, but then the space filled with red hot anger, hotter than the fire that started this mess.
We took a walk down to the forest. I put the camera between me and it. It doesn’t feel as personal through the lens, even when a neighbor appears in the frame, crying – covering her face with her hands.
There are at least a hundred trees ripped from the ground, lopped off at the bases, turned upside down – roots and earth exposed. The smell of fresh, wet soil transports me back to every flood that has happened over the past four years. The swath of downed trees is wide like the blanket of mud that buried what we loved, feet deep in sediment not so long ago.
Everyone returns to the house. I stay behind and follow the trees with my camera – birds flying into 100 year old Ponderosas lying on their sides. And then I retreat inside as well.
Hours have passed and I’ve returned home alone. I swear I could crush my own skull with my hands – palms resting on my cheeks now everything sort of deflating. Seems like I’ve been shaking over something for days and now again, there’s nothing I can do.
I can’t point a camera at me and be my own witness; I can’t get far enough away from me through the lens.