ONE NIGHT OUT WEST
There is water in the fields where the sloughs used to be, before the dikes and levees and the Great Fill-In. Alongside Memorial Highway, there’s a whole river underground, surfacing, forming lucent pools of reflected, ancient, starlight. The islands glow fluorescent in the distance, across the flats, over the strait, beacons for my father who set off walking this winter night in February.
It is a long way to the potter’s field, to lie down, to let the earth take him. With lucid memories of every farm and fencepost that used to be, he says, this used to be an ocean, this used to be a glacier field, there the Swinomish used to fish. The settlers came here for grain and grain boats came from Pennsylvania. It was in all the papers. Mount Baker and Glacier Peak, one day they’re gonna blow. And my father says, I can’t do this alone.
Randy Dills lives on a wooded farm on rural Fidalgo Island in the Pacific Northwest. This is his first published work.