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July 2013, vol 9, no 2

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Steven Carter

Tuesday All Day

In a rising wind off Swan Lake, the gnarly-branched apple tree cracks its knuckles, tapping him gently on the shoulder with a leafy hand.

Then a stronger gust: the tree shudders and the hand, which feels like a phantom hand—he's that engrossed in his writing—is withdrawn.

Half-way through an essay on metaphor, he's having a tough go of it. Glasses of chardonnay don't help. The lake, sneaking a peek at him through apple- and jack-pine branches, doesn't help.

Kibitzing rain-clouds don't help. Crane Mountain—

Exasperated, he sits back in the green plastic chair and stares at nothing. From somewhere deep in the forest: a raven's caw-caw-caw.

Everybody's a critic.

—Suddenly memories of a parable—bits and pieces of memories—crash the party. He struggles to remember the author of—

. . . After a long journey the Knight Who Saw Things as they Are happened upon the Dragon of Metaphor; and the two did fierce battle. And the Knight slew the Dragon.

And when the Dragon breathed its last, the stars disappeared, the grass disappeared, pine trees, ravens, and clouds disappeared; and the Knight, too, disappeared. . .

Looking at the gnarly tree above him, now he remembers: he himself wrote these words. Like yesterday's lost rowboat floating down the lake, memory is starting to drift away.

Bending against the wind, he returns to the house, plopping down in his favorite chair, gazing at trees, clouds, and whitecaps.

Then his wife says, "I've never seen you do that before."

"Do what?" he asks, startled.

"Crack your knuckles."

between the branches—
sky and lake