White Trash National Park
by Sam Orndorff
You walk the path wondering what’s out past the trail by the brook. You know perfectly well, bigger bushes, more trees. You can wander if you have no point B. So go.
Dry wind washes over your face to shuffle sounds. Helpful vibrations you have called goddesses among the bushes and trees. That’s why you’re here. Fear that life is too dull inside there. The interest in a fear of dangerous things alive. As you wander off trail you step right into a thorn patch, quick darting pains you to panic, you run.
Past saplings and crash leaves until you are out of energy. Lurch over. You pause your breath. You don’t know which way the trail was, you admit to yourself you’re lost.
Wandering proves fears won’t have their way. You see the cold earth, the river, and the force beneath the brook. As you watch the stones beneath the water you think of white toilets and toilets yellowed by grime. You think of the people who say “yellow let it mellow, brown flush it down” and how their general lack of clean would usually undermine their conservation. Your body feels hot, then very cold. Your rushed heartbeat pumps your bladder full so you turn away from the tiny river. To relieve yourself away from the stream, knowing well how watersheds work. It’s all a rush, but you’re pretty sure you can find the trail. Something still gnats. You just wanted to temporarily escape to a time before humans were here. A time without conflict. Nature.
That time never was. We are nature. You’re out here, stomping, polluting and pissing.
Negative thoughts start to give in to feelings, the feelings could paralyze you but then you see the path and whew aloud.
Sudden love is everywhere you look as your breath settles to beautiful flowers in purple shades. Feel a creeping feeling that you still shouldn’t be here though, now that you know you’re not lost and just inadequate. Some white hat-shaped blooms face down in delicate bundles. Stout dark red triangle flowers bob in the wind near a big fallen log with a flush cut base.
But no, you see that just one of them bobs. How can the wind hit only one of the flowers? You’ve seen that before, in other forests. Goddess. There's no wind beneath the canopy and it must be a spirit in the overgrowth. You remember your struggle to be calm and reach out to touch the flowers and smile thinking of DJ Khaled. You retell the line of a poem you wrote to yourself, better living through peasantry.
A hard life is your concrete fear. So you came out here. A five-point purple flower rests, its tender leafy fabric displays an inner yellow circle. You reach for your phone to take a picture that blurs but you don’t delete it or take another. You wonder if people have been here before without hurting each other or destroying nature. Why would they do that? It’s so pretty out here, you think. Why would we destroy it all?
The path has a lot of forks off the main because previous people wandered. We wander.
We white people with “-or what” attitudes for law or land. For us there is no law of the forest. You think of China. Think about fate and odds. Think about numbers without pairs and hike back to the main trail. None of these muddier offshoots go anywhere past a few puddles and rock walls. You could keep going but you’ll hit a road or get lost all over again.
Trees along the path record earth’s ability to allow upright one-legged beings for centuries. Trees live up slow through the jagged opening eyelids of the rock. You leave the biggest trees un-photographed. Touch their deep groove barks instead. The most recent people here also happen to be the most violent. They made this a National Forest. Now it has some garbage.
You realize such pleasant brook paths were probably Indian trails first. You turn your body down in a tear of solace for the original inhabitants. Take condolence toward where they live today. Solace at the expense of this path. You feel able to live because of the last book you finished. You feel remorse. In A Barren Land. The way it wound down just before leaving your mind and soul harmonized, informed but depressed. Settler. Settle.