By: Dylan Lenz
The English Oak above me was courageous to plant itself so near the slope that broke near its roots, but it was mighty and held fast and grew deep. I was tired and my back was sore so I sat down and made my notes and I ate the food I had packed when the air was still cold before the sun rose. I looked up and in its shade I was content.
After a time I stood. I walked around the tree and I saw a beaver’s lodge in the water but I could not see the animal itself. A forsythias bloomed down the path and it made the air sweet. A light wind blew.
I found the lowest branch and it was easy to climb so I made my way upwards. Looking out over the lake and the woods and the dwindling orchards, I could see a storm coming in. The wind was brisk now, but it was warm so I knew I should make my way home before the rain began. The sound of nails being driven made me uneasy and Lydia was waiting for me, but I lingered and I was afraid because it all seemed so fleeting.
From the perspective of a Yellow-rumped warbler.
The promises of a colorful autumn and colorless winter would have kept me north, but the lipless whispers of my mother disenchanted the majesty of such a notion.
I had envisioned myself sitting before some branch, midday, looking on the stubborn maple as it lost the last of its leaves. I would watch while the last of its fellows departed the rough skin, then ponder the metaphysical world that filled my mind.
I would wonder if God were present, or just a pleasant ideal put on a shelf until tragedy struck or confidence waned. I would think of my father’s unchallenged conviction, while he fluttered in a fury for us to leave at first frost.
Perhaps below I could listen to the murmuring questions of Sara’s daughter, as the man and child would rake the fallen blades of the mighty maple, standing above , now devoid its former glory, nonetheless present.
It is just the same I should keep pondering such, fall is coming and with it the first frost. I will fly south for winter and along the way I too will curse my branches for not letting us decide when we should fall.
By: Dylan Lenz
I came to it because the gold had caught my eye,
I knew it made the air sweet.
I stayed to watch the birds wash in the shallows.
I came for flowers to give to her,
I drank tea and ate honey,
I found fallen feathers,
I knew the sun set sometime.
I did not recall when.
I had lost time.
I felt the air grow cold.
I longed for her to return.
I slept and then awoke to crickets.
I returned to the house with empty hands.
I left because Lydia called me.
Born to nothing we will dream as kings and oh the kingdoms we will build. It was times like these that David Lowe would recall the last words of Harry Bradshaw but it was not the time for memories of better men and simpler times.
He stood before the union offices. The Pacific Shipbuilders inhabited a small corner of the second floor of a building that was not grand, or worth discussing. The union was not trying to impress anyone and that impressed Lowe. Part of him was jealous that the minimalist simplicity was not afforded to men who could command it with the wealth and power they had collected. David Lowe would have been perfectly happy in an old office in an old factory with a single chair for himself so those who met with him would have to walk or stand and not waste his time. After all time was short, and there never seemed to be enough.
David was to meet with Solomon Schule the president of the PSU. David liked Solomon. Once they had been friends. David had been a groomsman, but that was years ago when they were young men and ambitions took them in different directions through different means.
David opened the glass door and took the stairwell on his right. The stairs smelled of cigarette smoke. He liked that. There was a certain honesty about the stairs and the fact that their simplicity made them timeless. There are things you can’t change, and things you can’t make better. Thought David. Things like shoelaces. No matter how hard you tried shoelaces would always be around. Same for ships. The world will always need ships and shipbuilders and shipbuilders will always need men and Solomon had the men David needed.
When David came to the door of the office he paused a moment and checked his watch. He was twenty minutes early. He entered.
“David Lowe to see Solomon Schule,” he said to the woman behind the desk.
“He’ll be a few more minutes Mr. Lowe,” said the woman, she said it flatly but David could detect a touch of reproach. He nodded and took a seat near the door and waited quietly. The window across from where he sat reflected his image just enough that he could make out how he looked. His shoulders were broad and filled his suit nicely. His hair had bleached out slightly over the summer and turned a coppered blond that was done up with ease to look as if it formed naturally. Lowe’s face was attractive enough, with masculine features that made him look older than he was as a young man, and younger now. His eyes had sunken slightly and circles formed under them so that in the half light of his office when he worked late he seemed haunted.
David pulled his eyes from the window and looked about the office. He had not seen it in a number of years since he had fired a large number of workers from Pacific and ended up dissolving his contract with the union. The men who came back were not unionized and their wages were cut. That was when Solomon Shule had also dissolved their friendship. Lowe had liked Shule enough to offer him steady work as a Vice-president of labor for Trans-Pacific Shipping and with it a nice office and competitive salary that was more than the union could offer. Shule was an idealist. He stayed with the Union. Lowe liked him all the more for that and regreeted that he had lost one of the few people he could call in the middle of the night to run his ideas past. If David was in Shule’s position he might have done the same thing.
The walls were aquamarine and starting to show their age. At onetime the building had been new, the culmination of enterprise and labor to a polished final product. In its time it had been an expensive place to lease but with the loss of production the service of the doctors and lawyers moved on as well. The building was not meant to impress the men who came here. The men who were shipbuilders were not rich men, and they were not proud men. They were workers men like David had been who would sit on an I beam forty feet in the air without a harness to weld rivets to steel. They were worth every penny that Trans-Pacific Shipping had cut from their wages but the economy tanked and David couldn’t help that.
Lowe looked across the office at a painting of a sailboat on an inlet. It was a watercolor and the ship was just a pair of black sails against the light blue water surrounded by mountains. The boat reminded David of the first one he built years ago with Harry Bradshaw, when it was appropriate to dream of better times and better men.
As a boy, the lake house seemed like a foreign shore though it was only at the end of the street. The Bradshaw’s who lived there seldom poke with the neighbors but from time to time were known to ask if their guests could park along the lesser yards at their annual Labor Day event. The neighbors would let them and offered a good-mannered exchange and then the Bradshaw’s would retreat to the city and not be seen again until the following summer when they returned to the lake house.
David lived with his mother on the small farm at the end of Franklin Rd. The farm was twelve miles out of town under the foothills where the end of the lake met one of the creeks that fed it. His mother had inherited it when her father died and they moved back to Washington from Portland. Colleen had refused to sell the farm and instead hired a few men to help seed and harvest and had David help her with the day-to-day chores. One of the hired men, Carl had stayed on after the last season had ended. Colleen would smoke and drink with him late in the night and then they would make for the bedroom where David could hear. In the summer on these nights Daivd would sneak out of the house and sleep on the couch on the porch. There was a bug light on the other end so the insects did not cause him much trouble and the hot air made it easy to sleep.