Forest Full of Analogy

Although it has been thirty-eight degrees for the past two mornings, the forest is in full bloom, extending its jungle growth from trunk to trunk, canopy to topsoil. The view from my writing desk has been sharply diminished by maple and white oak branches that close their seasonal window into Deep Gap. Thankfully, Celo Knob still booms above the trees and I can see the rock face cliff and white twitter of waterfall as I type.

For Mother’s Day I took my mom to Wildflower Cove where the old forest road I like to loop back on seemed nearly overgrown with greenery. Dangling saplings of tulip poplar and beech trees threatened the path. From the bottom up, swaths of stinging nettle, black cohash, and meadow rue tangled at my feet. Poison Ivy lapped at my boots and glistened under filtered sunlight. Attempting the trail seemed murderous, the metaphoric stench of green death under every step I took.

A quiet dullness has settled in around my head like the spring growth that crowds these trails. To forcefully push back the brush at this point would beg the question. The claustrophobia of spring has induced a particular hibernation in me, which is precisely what I need to pay attention to. It is heavy with entanglements of love affairs, the rhizomes of writing, the blooming of graduate school. I wake at odd hours and long for sleep by 8:00 p.m. I prefer the illusions of books to the efforts of descriptive prose at my own fingertips. On occasion I long for company but mostly I prefer the dormancy of solo living, sweet sound of silence, ease of one-pot meals for three days straight.

All of this is not to say I am going sappy on my devotion to this life. From a small perch I can watch myself, cocooning around in my little cabin, burrowing parts of myself into my bones to assure their safekeeping. This is called self-preservation. I know I am about to face mountains of vulnerabilities in the form of peer edits, conversations with authors, and the pressures unseen for my success with this degree. It is necessary to retreat inward before owning it all in public and so with each breath I tread lightly, storing energy reserves for my grand opening as MFA, which I will now officially dub: Mighty Fine Artist, a degree all of us are due. Now, with steadiness, I must maintain and build what has been brewing in me for years.

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