After the Forest
When I heard the forest had vanished, I went to pay my respects. I leapt from one stump to the next and didn't dare touch the ground — an ocean that could not be fathomed, an origin I couldn't return to. Puttaarpoq, they say in Greenlandic, he leaps from one ice floe to another, like a hunter, a dancer. Mine was the only shadow and it was on fire. I thought of the roots below, letting go of the world like birds. The forest was once a glacier that crept over the Earth, calving the whims of time and climate. I stopped to survey the loneliness, like a city of basements. Not even a mushroom remained. A silence pressed in, cold and ancient. I shuddered. Suddenly I remembered the foxes — had they ever existed? I scratched the sediment of my memory and turned up only sand. And where were the children to wonder if the stories about foxes were true? When I was a child chasing a breeze I knew nuanaarpoq — the extravagant pleasure of being alive. The stumps became more spread out and I leapt farther and farther over the churning ocean, into a crack in the sky. And the butterflies? That night I dreamt of yellow-red leaves, fallen, strewn about in the wind, burnt like the sun.
, originally from Canada, is an adjunct lecturer in astronomy, math and physics. He is the author of "The Bluffer's Guide to the Cosmos" (Oval Books) and "Brief Eulogies for Lost Animals: An Extinction Reader" (Pen and Anvil). He can be found at danielhudon.com, @daniel_hudon
, and in Boston, MA.