There is a corpse in my yard, splayed across the grass. In a way, it is beautiful, the way its limbs twist around one another, twined together in death in a way they never touched in life. In death I can see its bright insides, shining out like a beacon calling for aid, for respite from what should be a final end to its suffering. Its body stretches out across the ground, transforming it from a gentle slope to an untamed wilderness of peaks and tangles. In places it still reaches out of the sky. Perhaps, after all these years, it just hasn’t abandoned its habit.
I worry that, dramatic as it is to behold, it will begin to smother and choke that which remains alive. Already in its fall it has broken a branch from my magnolia tree — this, through no fault of its own, of course. In death we cannot help but continue to destroy as we did in life, particularly if we, as did this tree, have grown in close proximity to other lives.
It stood strong and powerful for years, only to have a single flash begin the story of its end. Now that it is open, I could count the years, but will I? Do I truly wish to know the true span of the loss that has occurred? The leaves are still green. The corpse’s limbs, though they are broken and torn, still hold the seeming resiliency of life.
I think it has yet to realize that it has died. After all, it still stood after that fateful crack that spelled its death. We had to come inform it of its passing by ripping it limb from limb and scattering its parts across the ground. Even now, a piece of it still stands, surrounding by that which has been cut away. Perhaps it does still live. Perhaps it wonders why, after decades of shouldering the burden of its life, it suddenly feels so light.
When rain comes, it darkens the world. The clouds dim the light and grey out the sky. It is easy to see the world as muted; deadened, even. Yet as the water falls from the sky, and touches upon everything that rests beneath it, it refreshes; it quenches thirst, yes, and moistens parched ground, but that’s not the aspect to which I refer.
Watch, sometime, as a rock grown dry and dusty in the sun begins to glisten under the gentle caress of the rain. Watch as the dirty red-orange hose curled against the side of your how begins to shine as a layer of water coats its hide. Find a tree that has fallen to the world’s destructive force and look at its bark, at the splits where its pale wood stares out into the world. Are the colors not bolder? More vivid that they were even under the bright light of the sun? Stronger, for all of their darkness?
Sometimes it feels like death is circling me — less like vultures, and more like an asteroid with an irregular orbit that will eventually decay and cause it to come crashing down. The corpse in my yard brought it close. I can only hope its path now takes it far away.