I learned young
To build a confidence
Maybe even a swagger
In how I carry myself amongst others
A survival mechanism
Created out of necessity
I was raised around dominant men
And I realized early
If I wanted a voice
I had to stand toe to toe
And make them listen
It’s been a part of me for so long
That I don’t even realize it’s on
It’s hard to juggle that
And meet people
It deters and intimidates most
And those it doesn’t are attracted
To the idea of a confident woman
But not the reality of it
I think I scare people when I do drop that guard
I’ve discovered I have no half way
Just on or off with no dimmer switch
And that level of wide open vulnerability
Is uncomfortable to them
I’ve yet to find someone
Who can handle both versions of me
And pretending to be something else
Has never been one of my talents
The history of the world is full of unspoken lives: people who lived and died and accomplished, only to be forgotten. These people have no accolades and no tributes because no one cared to remember. It is a depressing fact of life that only a handful of people are remembered through the ages. The rest of the dead sleep on as a memory in the minds of few, if any, people.
Working in the back country of Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area, I get to see rough country. The thing that amazes me about the Frank Church is that a person can ride for days into the heart of the 2 million plus acres of wilderness, and find proof that people lived. There are trails that have long been forgotten, and are mere snakes of dirt etched into a mountainside, but you know somebody traveled that path for years. Many times, I have found cabins, ravaged by time, hidden in some draw or buried under brush along a creek that no longer runs.
When I see these things, I wonder who made the rocky trails with dynamite and tools, who built the cabins with sweat and blood. Most of all, what I wonder is who they were and what happened to them? Records of people who lived in the Frank Church exist; those records do not include everyone.
There are people that lived and died, and the only proof left of their existence is a gravestone or a trail vanishing with time. Occasionally, you are blessed to meet some old-timer who still remembers those that are gone. They will tell of the friends they knew and how they did not come to town for their supplies one summer. Within the broad mountains, they simply vanished. Theirs are the faces that we picture in our minds but never truly see. They are the ghosts of the past.
We will never know their names, their whole stories, or how they lived and died. We will draw our own conclusions and a part of us will be partially satisfied. The other part will hunger for the knowledge of those that traveled before us. The ghosts that forged the trails we now walk will haunt us. I am glad they will do so; in that small way they are honored for their achievements.
The things we say when drunk pale in comparison to the things we say during sex.
Sad stories behind shadowed eyes – penny for your thoughts till the jagged edge of a short life makes em worth a dollar – death makes people listen just a little too late to hear your cries – taillights of a rambling love on a cold starry night – hand me down name bears a history of love & life & scars – to many times of asking are you gonna kiss me or not are gonna do this or what – fears in a sky filled by new moon risings.
Tilled dirt gave way – sliding treacherously away – revealing hard pack
My shin took out the sand filled barrel & tore jeans & flesh
I felt blood soaked jean pressed into the earth by 1,500lbs of flailing sliding horseflesh
We slid – leaving a furrow in the earth like a plane does when it crashes
I shook dirt from boots & limped to where he stood – reins askew & paint hide packed with dirt
They issued a re-run due to ground conditions
We rounded first – shifting gears in a smooth rhythm – a lean curving whip of horse & rider then second in a fluid twisting bend of perfect timing & space
We drifted around third & waved goodbye – stretching long & low over dirt & through our own dusty air
After it all
Her hands find the earth
Whisper seeds to life
Where sage brush withers & dies
From a multitude of blooms
Anything in return.
Like a silly ride in a theme park – round & round & over & over – little blue toy escaped the mad swirling without a pause – rear tire hooks into snow & white explodes against red metal – frozen dirt changes spinning to airborne madness – first roll brings in a rush of glass & snow & dirt ripped from its home as anything glass explodes into gravel sized crumbles – how pointless is a life light sticker on the windshield when you lose the windshield first of – impact launches & much boots & chains & toolbox shower everywhere – & we land upright across the median partially in opposite bound oncoming – at the hotel entrance I pulled my remaining valuables from amongst the wreckage & deposited in purchased trash bags – waved & said bye bye Lucille.
Angry growl of cold diesel shakes my skin in the still winter night – breath frosts steering wheel – I want warmth – his warmth to reheat my chill in the dark – it’s something I have not grown accustomed to wanting.