Hush blankets the world after the storm, it conceals the chaos and the strain, the turmoil and the truth of the world. Everything sets in the silence to renew again. What few leaves remain on branches bob in the breeze. The sun shines slanting downward in the late afternoon and colors explode everywhere, softly, in delighted whisper. There is only calm and reflection, controlled anticipation as white and lucid as the environment itself. Even the insects take respite. Without moments like this, life on Earth might be unbearable, oppressive. We heal after digging free of the storm, we move forward, ready for anything.
I wear a light jacket and walk through the morning glow gathering wood as if I belonged here. Nothing belongs. We’re all itinerants. Man can make no claim here. The only moral obligation is survival. Voices up the hill weave through days intermittently and I spy them over the rifle barrel. In spring I collect roses and wildflowers and put them in glass jars of water because it makes me feel normal.
There are no hobbies. Every moment of the day is spent doing what must be done. If there’s any time to spare beyond that, I’m doing something wrong. Laundry, hunting, water from the well. Cleaning, cooking. I find peace in the daily routine of necessary tasks. Every now and then a quiet cup of coffee at the window. Clean the guns and grease them up. Walk the grounds, check the traps. Sweep the floor. I trick myself into thinking I hear voices and I investigate. The air is cold, it sharpens the mind.
The baby cries in the night and the woman rouses me. She’s tired of seeing to the child. I can’t blame her. I put on my robe and the woman’s red hair spreads over her pillow like tapestry. In the sitting room the baby shouts for something, for someone. I pick the baby girl up out of her crib and hold her, telling her everything’s okay, hush, everything’s going to be okay.