Peripatetic. Orientation. Discourse.
“Every love has its landscape.”
–Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost
The first cold morning of the season is an arrival. Each cold front settles in the evening before, always. The weather here is predictable like that. The temperatures drops with the sun and autumns curtain lifts. Winter is here.
The sky is a boundless blue on these mornings. As with the humidity, the clouds are gone. Coniferous trees begin to shed, their branches clinging to the sky at Earth’s horizons. Look up. The blue gets darker, deeper, as if in shadow at the top of a cupola. Or maybe it’s the bottom of a sea. And not just a reflection, you could fall forever in that blue. This is how I will remember each winter, every holiday. Not white, nor green, nor auburn. Blue.
I look down at the gravel trail. I haven’t fallen yet.
There is a queerness to winter in Florida. Cold without the dark. Light without the heat. Woman without the womb. The brilliance of the sun in the cold and dark season, the green treetops framed by sky blue. In the Everglades, Earth as mother is refigured by her topography and each winter she invites us back. Water drifts along the surface, never deep. (The average depth of Lake Okeechobee, her headwaters, is only nine feet.) Yet the shallows are vast, concealing gators and panthers and orchids and people. Endless sawgrass, winding sloughs, impenetrable cypress. Through ridge and swamp and prairie I find my way, along the imprint of a memory further north, another river. In her essay on moving water, poet Alison Townsend appraises these landscapes that “shape us by being so familiar that they seem a country we have always known.” Femininity fits me here. Unshaven blonde hairs. Blue veins beneath pale, softening skin. The endless stream of facial hair. A tangle of desiccate curls. Rivers do not ask us our history, I sought refuge in this one summer on the other river, but they do impress on us. They shape us. The stream parts but I know now it is wrapping around my skin, shaping me like the bends and curves I follow. (I will not retain all her shapes). Moving upstream, I confront her memories. How many thousands of years of whispered secrets has she known? The River won’t take, but she will keep.
I learned to love you last winter, but the cold season keeps. Replete harvests wane and I hunger for a feast I have not partaken of. I pine for the last autumn: The smell of wood smoke caught on hair kindles my craving, the indent of a mattress shapes my want, acrylic wool stokes the sticky heat of passion. In winter we slam the doors, burn the firs, get inside each other. In winter, all my ends are falling.
Autumn Wright is an essayist. They do criticism on games and other media. Find their latest writing at @TheAutumnWright.