Last night after everyone left, Dean went to our mailbox which is across the road from our home(it's a typical county affair, a red flagged metal mailbox stuck in an old milking jug). Along with our mail was a handwritten note. He handed it to me after looking at himself with a perplexed look on his face. It read, "Dead goat on the west side of the barn beside fence next to road."
Dean said and I agreed, it must be a deer. It was late, almost midnight. I thought for a moment of getting the flashlight and going to take a look. I saw from the window the headlights of a car and thought it would be dangerous and besides I hate it when I'm driving and the dead eyes of an animal beside the road glare back at me in the headlights of the my car. And he said it was dead so there was no saving the poor thing.
I was home all day and it wasn't until I was pulling up onto the road from our driveway and looked west toward the barn that I thought of what poor dead animal was laying out of sight but yet there. Or, perhaps, I thought, someone had moved it. I came home just after midnight and it was when I approached my driveway with a car driving behind me on the narrow road that runs beside the river, that I thought of seeing what layed just beyond the barn. And I wondered when I drove down my driveway, how many things are going on just beyond arms; just beyond my sight lines. Things without number I imagine. And I feel a sadness about this; about what I am so close to yet I am disconnected from.
I will ,because I feel like it, in this case at any rate, blame the road; both for most likely killing the animal and for cutting me off from it. Since we moved here eighteen years ago there have been more than the average amount of car accidents (given any other stretch of road of same length). I blame the road for cutting me off from the river; for choking out the life from the land. I believe when land is parcelled and separated, it loses its essential nature; meanings it's power of place.
There was a time when this road with a speed sign that reads 35mph (which is ignored) was a slowly traveled dirt lane where a few horse drawn buggies traveled and got stuck in ruts when springs were rainy and warm and the river swelled with snowmelt. There was a time when the three hundred yards of earth between our front porch and the river was flat and naturally appointed with cottonwood and alder trees with shrubby willows fringing the sandy beach. But that is not now, now the river, like the dead 'goat' is close but so often out of reach. I long for that natural meeting of land and river; the sandy beach where the young children of this home a hundred years ago ran along and where drifting logs washed upon and dried in the sun. It all happened here once. Life was like that here once. If I had lived here then the dead young deer would have been so close I would by now have seen it and burried it and it would have felt closer, even though it was in the same place at it is now.
I love the closeness of the river but long for uninterrupted space. No dike road. But this house with it's old boards the pilings that it stands on has brought me home. I, perhaps was the stray that it took it; it feels that way, that the house took me in. And that the hundred year old laurel, black elm and locus trees were in on it too. So for now we are travelers together. The soul of the house lives in these trees that sit so close to the house; these trees that were sent for by the builder of this house and planted when they were saplings. You could say they have grown up here. When the house was vacant, as it was over the years the trees kept it company. When I first saw this old farmhouse, the trees, like children pushing their way to the front of a crowd, wanted me to know that they came with the house. Not to be separated. I cannot imagine the house without the trees; perhaps wood never dies and the house and the trees have grown together. So, it seems to me. I wonder if it is still there...the dead animal?