Thicket (A Short Story)


A short story

By J.D. Boger



Manys a mornin I’ve spent waitin for the sun to rise

When the sky is at its lowest an the clouds are mean

An its all a dark blue black bedlam

An everybodys sleepin

An your heart is the loudest thing

I like to stand out from refuge

An I wonder


What God was about

Goin backn forth

All nothing but himn waters

Before he started makin an breathin


Wonder if he ever got cold      if cold was such a thing

If he thought much of anything


Or nothin

If he ever got lonesome

Or ifn he refused any sadness


I ponder on lots of things  read all sorts’v books

Keeps the rats out of the attic I spose


And there

I got too much into thinkin

The dawn was risin full white

An I almost missed it


The dark veil lifted from my eyes

And nature revealed herself

Pretty an perfect

It must’ve snowed last night

An it was the best kind

That fresh powder like smooth sugar

Gentle an timid

The kind you kinda feel bad about rompin on

Looks like diamond dust

An she twinkles sweet like a queen


Then she shows off with all sorts’v pinks oranges and blues

Tell you what

It’s enough to loosen the tightest bones

Gave me reason to stretch my arms out and yawn

Call the deepest joints to action


That’s enough to carry me through the day

I head on my soj’rn

Across the barn and over a rut

To the woods

Takin care to make footprints where I can


I don’t wander in the woods too much outside’v winter

I mean I’ll go if I’m about business

But I rarely wander

It does have a quality that I can bind men up

An drawem in


My father, Michael Byrd, disappeared some years ago in these woods

Durin winter

Everyone speaks well of him   can’t say I’ve heard a bad word on his account

My momma says I’m his spittin image

An her word’ll make the snow stick

One mornin we were eatin breakfast an she’s just starin at me

I askt if she’s alright an she just gets up an walks out of the room

She come back all red eyed     hands full

She said she’d been keepin the last bit’v my Pa’s stuff in an old chifforobe all locked up

But that’dnt make much sense keepin it that way

Wasn’t much   A brown coat some bootsn a hat

We’ve made out fine

We eatn drink

Got a roof

Not much to complain about

Was’nt like he’d abandoned us anyhow

W’aint sure where he went

Went out one night on a night out to get after a coyote

Never come back

They’d sent search parties out for weeks

Never brought up nothing

My momma was pregnant with me at the time

Never knew him

She’s alright though     got a new suitor last year

Happy seemin

I’m alright       I don’t make a fuss

He never done me wrong

So be it



I go out in the winter sometimes searchin

God knows for what

S’been roughly twenty years since

Guess I just like to go


I just like to walk backn forth far and wide

The forest bein such a lost place this time’v year

I’ll survey whatever’ll take me

Woods is always quiet

People will wake with the sun

But the woods’ll wait for spring

And they leave me little but the bone to chew on


Early colors from the sun’ve dried out

An everythins greyed ovr

Makes for dank wandrin

Not much to say bout a grey sky

Takes the color out’v the air

Leaves none for words

One man’d said

That sometimes in the snow

Big pockets like holes’ll get covered up

An when it gets grey you caint tell the difference of nuthin

An that maybe that’s how my pa went

Nuthern an old woman

Said that’s just what men do

Said most men got rabbit in em

An that they get stayin somewheres too long they’ll die

Or go absent in other ways

I aint seen no holes out here

An I’ve seen rabbits live long lives in the same cage


Passin through the trees

Contemplatin climbin

But there’s nuthin for it

These thin black pines got little more than hairs comin offem


This aint climbin country


Down the path a piece

I make my way to the pond

An my favrit tree


The pond is a sort’v set apart place

Its tucked back some an circled by trees

Frozen solid round this time


An leanin ovr it was the oak

It was growin outt’v a pile a big stones some two feet off the ground

I’d wondered before whether it’id pusht up through them stones or ifn it was placed there an it’d sent fingers down to claim what earth it could

Either way it had to fight at some point

You could tell it use to have big ambitions

But it’d been cut short

Looked like it had considered growin again but grown tired instead

Decided to try an drink from the pond

It had cheated the ground an had a curst look about it

All bent an gangled      pretendin to be some olive tree

It only had three spears comin outt’v it worth callin limbs

Comin right out of the heart

Tryin to go theysown ways

The littlest one shootin straight upwards

The biggest curved down just barely out of the water

The last couldn’t decide where to make for

All crooked itself

Partin between the two


I liked to lay across itn look up at the sky

An I did


I lay across that tree

Over the hard green mirror

All caught up between the earth an the heavens


An I wrapt my arms backwards like around the trunk

Seald my cold eyes for awhile

A good while


A lonely forerunner

A crow

Lands on the little branch stickin above me

Crowed like a broken bodied trumpet


Wind pickd up a bit

Sweet couplt airs singin


I sat up a bit lookin at my bed

Tore my coat gettin up

Brushed the barkn dust out of my hair

This tree sittin solitary

That was once full of branches

Things go that way it seems

A water drop hollows a stone

Not by force

But by falling oftn

An heavier things remain


On the pond

The wind pickt up some snow

Like a whirlwind an it hoverd round


Gettin late

Snow started fallin

I started to make back for the house


Made it to the barn an I looked back at the forest

Looked like a big empty thicket

I stood an never felt so bound up

An a cold fear ran shiverin     freezin my blood

Snow started fallin on hard like a mountain in a white sea

Forest lookt like black pine bars

Holdin in or holdin out

God knows what


Fenced in cold

No needy mortals go in that canniballed land


What hunger               wretchedness makes a man pursue such flight?

What savage beasts may wander in that waste?

Dumbed lips of my disaster

What become of his lips

His voice

Caint speak much for a voice you never heard


I’ll be twenty one in a few weeks

I’ve never climbed a mountain

Never saild any shores

Never fought in no wars

An I’m scared stiff of them woods


Hurried towards the house an I watcht the rays of the sun shoot across the sky as it falls

Contortin rapid as lightnen      with spasms and spouts of blood

Purple and red

The clouds exposen the colors like thin bleached bandages

Reflecten and exposen the trails of the wounded star

That sky wagin a daily war on itself                 Civil and then not so

And then darkness

I hope the sun finds some cloudy holster

Finds rest

What have I to do with such daily lamentations


Some people say we’re livin in the daytime

Sleepin at nightn that the sun shuts out the darkness

Others say that the day is just a trick               that all a space is darkness

An the sun is just another candle getting us through

I look at the stars an I can see what they mean

All those flames in the blackness

An I wonder


Porchlight come on

An cast a big shadow in front’v me

Stared at it a bitn let out a shout as hard as I could

But it was ate up in the wind and made to little more than a goat’s bleat


Walked over past my shadow to an old tree stump

Had a knife stuck in it for years

All black an rusted

Dusted off the snow that’d built up

An I kicked the hilt of the knife as hard as I could

Breakin it at the blade

Picked it up what was left of the hilt and went inside

The times was nightfall light growin less and less the sky rejectin the sun the sun burnin somewhere angry beyond measure tryin to stretch out and kill the cold





I have a PDF version for those interested.  Just leave an email address and I’ll send it to you

Various works of art done by Andrew Wyeth


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