The Word Around the Campfire States

They’ve never seen her tear-streaked face so blue.

And assorted other tragedies. And, no, it’s not funny. Cards laid are cards played. For most of us, anyway.

I’ve camped all over this sad, blue world. Bastrop to Camp Coker to Norway to New Mexico. I remember Chain of Lakes, when the raccoons raided our campsite like zombies on meth. And Buescher, when it was so cold we went to bed at sundown. A harbinger, I suppose.

And Scandinavia. A long, hard, beautiful week above the tree line, in the snow. Far too cold to make a fire, or talk. We ate frozen Hershey Bars, and counted the days until we could hike back down those mountains to some farmhouse. With food, unpasteurized milk, and daughters. Reminds me of an old joke my uncle, a farmer mind you, told me once over post-bird hunting bourbon. Her name was Lena, but I digress. She fed me strawberry jam.

Seems familiar.

I’ve played some cards. Euchre, Pay Me, the martyr, business in jars, and whatnot. I’ve caught some as well. Trumps, Tarot, and a queen or two of diamonds. You know them by the way they shine.

A long time ago, a red-headed girl from Mississippi left me a voicemail. Half in Tibetan, and half in French. Mother tongues. I never had it translated, but I understand it anyway. Emotionally, if not semantically.

You can understand without knowing. In fact, it occurs to me that knowledge is often the enemy of understanding.

Words. Leaning one way or the other. Dinner or lunch? Cleave, as in to hold fast or to divide. My grandmother called mountain lions painters. She never saw one, as far as I know.

But they’re out there. Somewhere.