The Mountain


The nettle met my knees as soon as I leaned my weight on the ladder for Iris. She was twelve rungs up, holding a roll of fishing line, a pocket knife, and a string of Christmas lights. Iris eyeballed our work in relation to the other legs of lights, stemming from the center of the octopus configuration, before tying off and clipping the line. "Should be enough slack if we tie those back ones a bit tighter." Randy says what we all are thinking. Ali just barely nods as she tilts her head back, taking in the elaborate lighting. I look at her, finally home, in the middle of the massive boulder field, deep in our forest. Her first four days here, she has spent a lot of time 'taking it in'. Our house, itself, took her the whole first night to absorb. "There's just so much going on in here. So much to look at," she said, after being quiet for a long time. After six roommates, alternating in and out, over the course of eight months, there are plenty obscure momentos left behind: a five foot wide Japanese fan, a gold tea kettle, a Jericho rose in a margarita glass, etc. I resist pointing out these obscurities for her. The mountain is something to be consumed in small, personal bites. I think about this, and how uncomfortable I first felt in these woods as I shimmy up a spice tree, my thighs clinging to the smooth bark. "Got it," I tie the last string of lights back. Joey spots my decent as Randy hits the switch: a circus tent of lights twinkle in the fading, evening, glow above our heads. How electricity even reaches back here, miles from the road, is a mystery I don't bother to question. My imagination suggests a few theories as I embrace the scene. Lately, I've been hesitant to even leave the mountain, finding that the obscure, theses oddities, are the only things that comfort me.