“Memory believes before knowing remembers.”
The pine woods surrounded us. The thin, dark green spikes offered shade at a bare minimum.
It smelled like Christmas, partially comforting, when you didn’t whiff someone else’s acrid sweat stink. When you didn’t intermittently smell the surfactant, decomposing shit, creeping slowly into the air through the half moon cut-out of the out-house.
Rural South Carolina. No. Rural-Rural South Carolina.
Off the grid.
This is where I would live, for twenty hours in June.
William Faulkner illuminated this deep south into me before I experienced it first hand.
If it had a color, Brown.
If it had personality, Aloof, Unwelcoming.
If I could taste it, bitter acid, like Collard Greens.
So it went in his fictional, early 20th century county of Yoknapatawpha.
So it went, solidified, deep within the limbic system of my skull.
Faulkner was my muse. A literary death’s head.
From him, I always prepared for the worst in these parts.
There were seventeen of us. Safety in numbers, slaloming through the cement moguls of a near miracle called “Whipsnake.”
To get hurt here would be serious. Miles from civilization. A helicopter might make it.
We tried not to think of that, instead, digested what “is:”
Imagine all the iconic 1970’s California snake runs, dropped by Gods, kneaded into a semblance of geometric genius.
2PM. The sun’s rays crashed down. And we rode.
5PM. The sun’s rays heaved hours of direct radiation on exposed skin. And we rode.
Until dusk. Until we were sick from the heat.
9PM. This was the summer solstice. The most sunlight, in one day, over the course of one single solar year.
Tent city went up directly north.
A small faction set up east.
And I, dripping sweat, stripped down to my underwear, and set up a sleep palette in the bottom of the north eastern section of the cement Snake Run:
The snake run, I reminded myself, the shining jewel that drew us here against the rationality of our five senses.
By night’s deep pitch, I lay facing upward.
Arms out. Legs slightly splayed.
A single, lime Marimekko floral printed sheet draped over by body.
A hole near my toes, snagged in transit, inviting in droves of mosquitoes, slowly, plucking prime meats.
Midnight thirty. The coals from a dead fire rusted peripheral illumination on the cusp of pine.
Staring skyward, to see the Milky Way as clear as it was, white dwarfs, red giants, black holes consuming spiral galaxies.
The white and blue streaks of astral shit.
Stars buzzing, satellites in drunken orbit, criss-crossing, fucked up in making our world go.
3AM. In the near distance Coyotes howled. Several. A pack, at least.
In the nearer distance, they called again.
In the absolute near, I heard their nails ratchet into and against the cement maze.
Movement, silence, olfactory readjustment, then movement. Again.
I stared, motionless, back up into the swirling mass of Dark Matter.
Beyond human, beyond animal, beyond the fear of Yoknapatawpha.
The Cosmos above: The true Dyer Maker.
The coyotes were here with me. For a bit. And then they were gone.
Silence, here on earth.
Comfort in being: The slight something of nothingness.