I walk this long alluvial plain, dreaming of forest. It's been years now but still I sigh the deep, old song of those hill-raised forests where I became myself - cells and stories. Still I listen for memory in the squally grey wind. My bones may be human but the darkness in me, between those bones, all around my thoughts, is hill-shadow, forest-heart.
But now I live on the plain. And as I walk it, or open my windows to it, I see hollows in the sky where trees have vanished from the horizon. Every day, hammers clash and electric saws burn the air. New houses, extensions on houses, garages, driveways - the domesticated man breaks down this natural world to make himself a private, personalised world. It is for his supposed safety, of course, and his convenience. But it feels to me like he is hammering and sawing at my own self. I do not love this plain, with its concrete ways and cluttered stone, brick, glass, sound. But this is where I am right now, and so much of it is who I am in this moment of my life.
I don't believe that people live in places - street addresses, houses sitting on landscapes, the windows and doors opening to a view. I believe that we dwell within space. We breathe pollen and tree language. We shape our feet to the earth. We become warm or cold or fierce or somnolent within the local atmosphere. The space holds our bodies and consciousness. And we hack away at it. We destroy pieces of the space, pieces of ourselves.
Today, the riverside trees beyond my neighbour's houses are touching a new, swollen emptiness as yet another of their company has been yanked away. It seems to hurt with sorrow and the ghosts of leaves. The trees sway differently now. They are affected in unexpected ways by the change in breeze patterns, the fall of light, the exposure of certain branches used to shade. And I sway differently too. I touch the emptiness and feel it echo against my own bones.