My father tells me the constant rush of water through our town is the whoosh of the world going round. The snow in the mountains never stops falling, never stops melting, never stops raging into the valley. Unstinting yet stern and roiling. Like the white noise of God and reason. Fathers fighting.
Silence in this town is never silent. Even now, when my own son asks why we are leaving, I don’t hear him at first. The river’s voice is much stronger than his.
“Leaving,” he shouts, “Why?”
We’ve never known anything but the town and this churning—this turning of the world—so the question has burrs. Why should we leave, when we have everything we need here? Except silence.
“And where?” he adds. “Where to?”
“The moon,” I shout absently, forgetting my son hangs on my every word, forgetting children are small illogical creatures.
The next morning my son brings a list to the breakfast table: “provisions”. He says he’ll share his list with me since I probably haven’t thought of making one myself, and he’s right. Though my mind is well beyond the town, my bags are still in the hall closet. Empty. I don’t even know what I’d take.
If I’m honest, I haven’t figured out where exactly we’re going. I know nothing of the world except that its turning is relentless and loud, but I dream of a place where silence is softer, where I can hear my thoughts parsed from the grammar of Providence.
“Air,” my son says. It’s the first provision on his list. A good one for the moon. He lifts a two-quart mason jar onto the table and pats the lid. The air. We’ll have to use it judiciously.
Best air in the world, my grandfather used to say. Negative ions. Next to the river. Said standing close refreshed his soul. I’m not even sure I could explain what a soul is if my son were to ask, but he’d never ask.
“Animal Crackers.” He shoves a box, less than half full, onto the table next to the jar of air. “We can make more,” he adds, reading my mind, because he’s seen me and my father make more cows from cows. Pigs from pigs.
We’ve always been farmers. Making more is just part of who we are. It’s in the blood that thunders from father to son, from son to son.
“The river,” my son says finally, holding out his hand. A puddle sits there in the dimple of his palm like an alpine lake. He bends his ear to it and listens. “I can hear it,” he says then gingerly holds his hand out to me. “Can you hear it?”
published 11 December 2013