Montana

The monuments in the towns along Highway 2 are all of giant birds in flight. My flight is towards the sun. I am trying to catch up with the sun. I am trying to reach the dawn. I am hiding from the night.

Even solid things like houses and boxcars blow in the Montana wind, their colors spread out like heads of wheat. Black clouds and hail in Cut Bank are the realest things I have known, and trains blowing horns is the only music that means anything.

The roads through Glacier National Park are blood red. Highway 2 is lined with white crosses that sit on posts replacing signs, marking all who have died along the way. There are thousands of white crosses, making it so that white crosses are the only scenery. Tin Indian statues on rusted horses replace real Indians—Blackfeet, High Plains—replaced. Tin Indians guard junk yards of car skeletons in Montana planes.

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I’ve got a lot of time to be nothing. And a lot of time to lose track of. The farther I go East the more hours I lose. Going from Pacific to Mountain to Central to Eastern time. Doesn’t feel like I’m far from home. Feels like I’m swimming. Swimming across Bear Lake in summer at twilight as a child, surrounded by cattails and lily pads, not wanting the sun to be fully submerged in the water. Not wanting to ever get out of the water. I’ve got a lot of time to be no one. My life spread out before me and behind me, my life summarized by a stretch of highway. This is not stagnant time. This is me from the time of my birth. Driving through Montana fields for hundreds of miles, I remembered being a two year old child and looking out at similar landscapes, endless scenery on road trips with my father, on flights of his mind. I remember our road language. Gas stations is what I asked for when needing to use the restroom, “What color will the sheets be in the hotel tonight,” is what I said when anxious to get there.

Nelson Reservoir, Montana

This place is the ocean contained in a pond. Struggling to pitch a tent in severe winds, hardship becomes hilarity. I laugh at the wind pulling up the tent’s stakes. I laugh at the horror I felt at approaching Buffalo Hot Springs Resort, 2 miles before Nelson Reservoir. A dirty ramshackle waterslide stood dry in the dirt cold wind—a hundred year old trailers surrounding it. The waterslide led to a pool of red sand and the Sleeping Buffalo Motel was a wilted pine wood wagon. The Sleeping Buffalo roadside monument was two large red boulders held captive in a manger style corral, with barrels of overflowing garbage in front of them. A sign held to a post by chains told of how the Native Americans worshipped these rocks that resembled giant sleeping buffalo. Now, in commemoration, pieces of them have been extracted and placed in this highway exhibit.

Waves beat the curb of shore and whitecaps gnaw the water. Seagulls fishing hover in one spot over the wind scoured water. The benefit of the cold and wind is my aloneness, no one is here but me and my friends and family and God and my past and future self, myself blooming through eternity. All of us laugh at how the wind shakes the tent, we aren’t afraid that it will blow away in the night. We would like to fly.

I dreamt last night that Tabitha was explaining how nothing material can satisfy the hunger of the soul.

The tarp flapping loud and wildly above my head is just a hysterical moment that will soon pass. The tarp is the flag of my soul saying yes Earth, here I am. I am grounded alright, aren’t I? Earth, we are here together, play camping, pretend scared children, preparing to live for real someday.