I am walking in the forest to clear my mind. My “now” is elusive. Legs move me to the creek where I gain momentary focus crossing on a too narrow log. On the far side, I’m lost again, though my feet know the way.
I am barely aware of the presence of spruce trees and boggy ground. A bird call turns my head. I bend down to examine footprints on the trail, could it be a lynx? There’s some scat; yes, a lynx. As I move through the thick, twisty wood, my mind falls from these moments of clarity, back into its tumult of past and future, remembrance and planning. I try to bring it to heel – when I recall that I want to; it’s a wild beast, lost in its delusions. I look up, surprised that I’ve arrived at the big birch I like to sit under; I do not recall the walk. I sit, close my eyes, attempt to focus, then forget my purpose and slide back into chaos.
A ripple of vertigo as the dark forest to my left reveals itself to be a wall of fur and flesh. Moosezilla, seven feet tall at her shoulder, goddess of beasts manifest. We’ve met before. She’s a distinctive creature, the largest moose I’ve ever seen; and so I’ve named her, as I sometimes do with distinctive creatures. Now, she’s right beside me, and a shock of rational fear jolts me, but I’m rooted to the ground along with the tree I lean against.
Moosezilla calmly turns her head towards me. She looks down at me, way down. I can smell her. I can feel her damp exhale on my face. Our eyes lock – and the sky splits open, jagged hail pierces me, I am shredded out of existence.
* * *
I am walking serenely through this same forest on four knobby-kneed legs. I stop and reach up to grasp a birch twig with my mouth; my lips are as supple as fingers. I stand and chew, then move slowly on. I traverse the forest with no purpose but movement. I browse on twigs and leaves. I stop and gaze at my surroundings.
At day’s end, I climb a low ridge to select a sleeping place; it is sheltered, with views all around. Not that there is much here to be wary of, it’s just what one does. When I wake, I stand and pee on my bed of the night before. I chew and swallow bits of the surrounding shrubs, then move on. I eat, nap, eat again. Tranquility is my being, slow movement is my life.
Day follows day, all the same, all completely absorbing. The season turns and I move through deep snow. I’m cold, but that is just another way of being. Food is less abundant and less appetizing, but that is winter. Spring comes, the snow melts, and wonderful new food sprouts from the ground and the trees.
I am moose. I am the forest and the sky. I am the twigs and leaves that I eat; I nourish myself with myself. My existence is not separate. All around me, every object glows with significance. Infinity stands behind each leaf and moves through the air with each mosquito. I am boundless.
* * *
She turns away and I am myself, sitting against a birch tree, with my two legs stretched out in front of me. I am myself, and the tree is a tree, and Moosezilla is moving slowly away into the thick, dark wood.
Scott Miller is a writer and artist who lives in a yurt, in a fen, in end-of-the-road Alaska. When not working, he’s likely roaming the woods with his dog, Alice.