29 August 2010

Literary Skiers 10: An Autumn Wish


That afternoon he crossed the watershed and started down through a dark spruce forest. Ravens flew over the vast high country, the slopes falling away all heather and gray weather wood into the clouds below. He made a fire beneath a shelf of rock and watched a storm close over the valley down there, ragged hot wires of lightning quaking in the dusk like voltage in some mad chemist's chambers. Rain fell, leaves fell, slantwise and wild, a silver storm blowing down the eaves of the world. He'd found a few wild chestnuts and he watched them blacken in the coals. He cracked and cooled them. All things contained of tree therein, leaf and root. He ate. He'd no food other and he thought his hunger would keep him awake but it didnt. He could hear the long wild sough of the wind in the high forest as he lay there in his blanket staring up at the heavens. The cold indifferent dark, the blind stars beaded on their tracks and mitered satellites and geared and pinioned planets all reeling through the black of space.

In the morning there was snow at the higher elevations, a fairyland dust on the peaks. He had bound up his feet with the crokersack and now he simply wrapped the blanket about his shoulders and went down along the ridge, a hermetic figure, already gaunted and sunken at the eyes, a week's beard. Going shrouded in his blanket through the forest beswirled about by cold gray mist, gray weather, cold day, moss the color of stone. The wind sharp in the dry bores of his nostrils. Down through the pale bare bones of a birch forest where the claw-shaped leaves he trod held little ferns of ice.

--Cormac McCarthy, from Suttree, 1979

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