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July 2018, vol 14 no 2

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Lew Watts

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings

The mines are long gone. It is late October, and last night’s frost still lingers in the shade of saplings.

My son and I pitch our tent next to a stream and fan out in search of firewood. Suddenly, there’s a shout, and I find him at the base of a cone-shaped hill holding a black slab of rock. He laughs as he shows me the charcoaled fronds of an ancient fern.

Now, with the moon rising, our coal fire smokes and wheezes with wetness. As I blow into the core, it begins to glow yellow then orange, and I tell my son about the old times – the sooted wallpaper above the fireplace, the blistered varnish on the fireside chairs, the constant sting in the eyes.

“Did you ever feel guilty?” he asks, quietly. “You know, night after night, burning fossil sunshine?”

calving ice
a seal pup wails
before the roar