My closest neighbors on both sides are cows. A cattle farm and rented pasture. Full of families, and the remnants thereof, lost in a foggy routine of days. Sleep, eat, move from one grassy spot to the next. Waves of time, each part indistinguishable from the last or the next. Numbness not comfortable, but familiar. Routine like camouflage, betrayed only by the intermittent arrival of a horror that is at once familiar and untold. The smell of diesel. A long rattling trailer and some slobbering dog from hell or Australia. Barking, growling, tugging at its rope.
Then absence. Yours or theirs. What was is not. What could have been becomes something else. Or nothing.
What mostly becomes is time. The true blue healer. The one who growls then quiets, and promises to forget.
But when? Days to pass one by one, while what you’ve been set apart from lies waiting in every thought. But it’s not yet a killing blow. Moments turn into hours and days that seem almost normal. This is how it is now. Maybe it’s always been this way. Until some implement or another announces the next upheaval,
Again, and again.
There are woods behind. Not enough pasture for livestock. Left to the birds and snakes. Deer, raccoons, and the occasional bobcat. I walk back there sometimes. Sometimes I wear boots. I don’t want to handle it.
Once I found a cleared spot within those woods. By the river that waters the grass that feeds the cattle that, for a while, are my neighbors. Someone put a tarp there, beside a pile of rocks and an old bag of sand. There was a chair for a while. An old woven lawn chair, like we used to sit in beside some other river. Long ago. Someone took it, or it blew away.
I think about that clearing sometimes. Usually in the late afternoon. When I hear a cow calling out in the distance.
Bemoaning the inevitable.