must’ve been five years old in the passenger seat, mid-dusk, on the barren highway drive to grandma’s house, the sky a navy swath, faraway lights from radio towers, signposts, airplanes, whatever, piercing through cobwebs of branches like sets of searing eyes, aliens perched among us that we never see or touch. terrifying, this haunt of presence, worse yet: the fear that I will fear and never know.

in the forests speeding by our car live something unknown, something so bleak and black and true that my heart swells with a tangerine joy that burns until it chars, then wrings tightly back into a twig, bleak and black and true. it’s bigger than my smallest brain can say. the rush is self-sustaining for as long as i can bear to scare, deeper every time, with every step a fresh piece of clothing left discarded in my wake. i imagine vacating the passenger seat of this 4-door 1981 v6 mustang and wading into those woods, tickling fingers with the spirits at the centre, making pals with the knotted pines and being birthed into a new grove, that holy secret grafted, gifted to my brain.

paralyzed by the uneasy nerviness of collective earnestness and all its implications, we deftly spun sam mendes’ plastic bag into so much gristle for more self-parody, the attendant relief an irony; we had a full stomach but we ate anyway. what worse fate, we said, than that of an aesthete?

candor and intensity now discarded, my only hope is wordlessness, back through that first door opened, five years old.

theorists make pastoralism a binary thing; the latent farmer in us all finally coming home to roost, jolted from urban sprawl. but the only thing that swirls my head that way anymore is music has the right to children, twoism and maybe geogaddi. not the swarming tease of childhood but the connection that ensues. through the things i know of my corporeal, five-year old life (faceless friends, timetable charts and hopeless, cock-eyed attempts to get underneath the weight and meaning of “i love you”), i find a glorious way in!

picture: a godless universe (not absent, just no need), sun-dipped beauty wafting off the trees, nirvana found in nothing save the worldliness of world, then finally each other. direct connect, no intermediaries, that twisted fear erased in an orgasm of understanding thanks to a brain no longer too young to comprehend. dimensions in new colors, sounds and numbers, the tantalizing lurch of sixtyten, seared into my head and left there lingering like a gauzy sound, an empty memory or better yet: a clue.

Mark Pytlik