Monday, September 12, 2016

The History of Wind

Let me tell you the cross-gusts around the Deschutes river mouth will shake your car on its springs, slap-rock a top-heavy U-Haul, whiplash fish-tail a triple-trailer across two lanes—that’s Mr. Wind. He’ll thrash a thousand miles of tumbleweed to flour-fine dust, whip the Columbia into salt-free surf.

But when that big flood came down, wall of water shoulder-high on the Cascades, thick with ice, stone, toothpicked trees, Mr. Wind was in front of it and you should have seen him run. Tail between his legs, he shot out of that narrow place like a cork from champagne.

After it was all over he came creeping back through the canyons, tiptoe over stripped-out stone. Water was beading on bare clay like blood on new-flayed flesh. Mr. Wind called the new rocks home, and he settled in to play. He made all the trees point upstream like signs to Pendleton.

Twenty thousand years went by and Mr. Wind was still busy playing. Then he felt a slice. It was just a little slice, but he turned around to see what happened. There was a whole forest of windmills growing up around the cliffs and every one of them was slicing at him. Little cuts like papercuts. Mr. Wind didn’t know what to think. He thought they looked like trees, but they didn’t bend like trees, not one of them would lean and point the way he pushed.

Mr. Wind, he ripped at the windmills and he broke one or two, but mostly they just spun away when he hit, and then spun back and swung at him like a fast-footed boxer. Mr. Wind danced in fury and he whipped up a storm, he swallowed smoke and spat out lightning and waited for the clouds to clear, and when he could see again there were more windmills than ever. Mr. Wind ran along the ridges and threw dust into the sky, and still the windmills kept slicing away and he could not stop them turning. Mr. Wind was bleeding air from every slice, writhing across half a continent like a coachwhip got run over by a car.

“Help me,” said Mr. Wind to the moon, “Help me,” he said to the sun and the stars, but they went sailing along and didn’t listen to him. “Help me,” he said to the river, and she laughed her cold, cold laugh.

“I’ve been a slave behind concrete walls, pushing turbines around these fifty, sixty years while you ran and played like nothing was wrong. I watched my children die trying to climb dams and my fast white waters turned into stupid lakes. What do you want from me, Mr. Wind?”

“Well, if water can’t help and wind can’t stop, I guess it’s time for earth and stone to say their piece.”

Mr. Wind pushed and shook at the roots of Wy’east and Louwala-Clough. He knocked on the doors at Pahto.

Stone listens slow. Stone listens long. Stone’s still listening, maybe. But you watch out, because when stone answers, it speaks in fire.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

1 comment:

Aaron Sumit said...
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