We climbed to the top of grandfather mountain and pulled ourselves through the impossible corridors of Raven's rock. There, standing on the very top of North Carolina, wind blowing hard. Infinite blue mountains ahead, angels flying around in little glorious blazes, the blue ridge parkway twisting around and around like the string you wind on your finger to remind you of something you cannot forget, like how you are supposed to leave today. It slips away with the wind and hides away behind the rocks but then by chance you look down at your hand: I have to leave today. Charles, David, Will, all boys with extraordinary hair and ways with words I'll never come close to. Will soft as bird's feathers, Charles' sleek blond is blowing, David puts us all to shame like the end of a cigarette glowing in the evening or embers in a furnace, poppies in a field, blood soaking gauze or fireworks exploding.
For hours we climbed around, Will holding on to my jacket very lightly whenever I crept towards the edge of the cliff to look down. (Wild places, acts of reassurance, light hand on my jack, a bottle of whiskey left beside me after Sarah died, arms tight around my shoulders holding me steady when I drove up a fever and almost shivered myself to death. None of this remembered or admitted, where does it come from?) Inadvertently we destroyed 6 fragile species and were spied through the binoculars of some mountain official far below, a man with a radio yelling, we split up and ran down the mountain alone, tearing through branches, met up back on the parkway and I flew off down the road in my car, alone, with the dog, towards Asheville.
60 miles of hair bend turns and McCain Palin advertising, the radio playing Jesus and Mother I couldn't stay another day longer, and finally the first sign for Asheville Up Ahead, exactly one year after I promised to visit.