I’m on the other side of a century. I was wandering over the crest of a hill and had just passed something for which I feel a sense of mourning and displacement – the sun hanging overhead in caesura, or in an unnoticeable way arcing from the east – as I walked through the twisted remains of a windmill and wooden tower. Nothing extraordinary. There are similar piles of refuse – contorted metal, fallen trees, torn-out fence posts with the sinewy tangles of barbed wire still attached – scattered in gullies and blowouts all throughout the Sandhills. My legs have carried me through another depression and over the crest, and I am descending into the lush green of the valley. It surprised me to feel attached to that windmill hidden away, rods and spokes and beams and gears jutting from the ground like bones of some great beast, and I think about the passage of time from birth to death and that all things will spin in such a way toward decay, and yet the clinginess of the trappings of life are sustained. The weight of time presses upon me, I sense the cartilage that softens my movements thinning, the creaks of my beams and rods and gears add to the eternal chorus, a harmony to the joy and laughter of meadowlarks and the piercing of prickly pears bursting forth from the sand, and how I am too often caught in the moment to see the passage of the day or week or year or century – the breaking away of memories like the seeds of dandelions and thistles and goatsbeard floating on the Nebraska wind blowing on the other side of a century.
Brian Crouse is a Guest Contributor for Panorama.
Brian Crouse lives in the Nebraska Sandhills with his wife and children and their myriad animal friends in a mythical valley of gentle prairies flanked by towering grass-covered dunes. He is interested in lyric, experimental, and short/flash CNF with a focus on memory, liminal spaces, and nature writing that sometimes take surreal turns. Twitter: @brian_p_crouse.