local_library Driftwood

by Greg Carson

Published in Issue No. 233 ~ October, 2016

The now bark-less log has floated across the waves on the tides of the ocean for untold years, slowly soaking in salt and brine and saturating its fibers, the currents dragging its mass across endless reefs and rocky beaches, stripping its once tough and luxurious skin from it, leaving its sun bleached and battered flesh exposed for all to see.

It once stood proud on a hillside, perhaps even near the precipice of a great mountain, or maybe with quiet dignity beside a mighty river, watching the waters carry grains of stone out to sea, millions of salmon rushing back and forth in front of it, watching year after year, fed by the nitrogen from their remnant bodies, left discarded in the underbrush by bears and other scavengers. Regardless of where it stood its vigil, there can be no question of its stand, of the scale of time that compressed its limbs and trunk and shaped its final pattern.

Yet for all the work of years, withstanding the weight of winters’ snow and the battering of fall storm winds, the scorching of summer fires and the dangerous surge of spring floods, it has now been reduced to floating debris, to a temporary burden upon the waves, whose crests submerge it and whose troughs allow it to feel the sun and the moon only in an uneven and undependable rhythm.

In the forest or on the mountain, it was one of many, nearly indistinguishable from the rest, another green giant in a nation that knows of only giants, and it was to be expected that when age finally pushed it past its limits, that it would collapse and fall to the forest floor, a nursery in which other giants would gestate, and on its bones would the next generation stand, reaching upward.

That will not come to pass now, with its mighty limbs crushed and scattered across an unforgiving coast, and its flesh salted so thoroughly that nothing could ever grow from it, destined to soon sink beneath the waves forever, another piece of debris on the bottom of the ocean, and no giants will rise from its bones, and the sun and moon will not stroke its limbs and face as it goes to its rest. It will instead feel only the crushing weight of the world and of the black abyss.

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Greg began his creative leakage early in elementary school to amuse himself and his classmates and has not managed to re-cork the bottle in the intervening years.