He looks back at one of the dreamy-faced Bible babies, its small feathery wings. Imagine. Wings.
Hello, crow. You see the sky brightening in eager increments. Some of the stars are losing their grip. This is the mountain, mostly on St. Onge land. One of two, but this one is closer to the heavens. Some humans call them foothills because they are so old and slouched by time, not the childly rugged Rockies.
All around you is naked ledge and blueberry and juniper and blisters of lichen, the hard faces of rock with small cupboard-size cave openings, which from a distance are the sockets of empty eyes.
Speaking of no eyes, wasn't it just yesterday that one of the damaged elder humans (whom Gordon St. Onge has welcomed into his world) visited this summit? The old eyeless man is one whom you, crow, are especially keen about. How does he get around? A youngster always steers the way, one of those little tractors they call buggies, which strain and jerk over trails and the rocky summit road. Makes no roar. It hums.
The old blinded man, blinded by some scarring violence such as working a dragger, or maybe it was war, sits behind and locks his arms around the driver, the sweet hot evening or fresh morning is forced across his cheeks and bald skull. He smiles steadily, serenely, though the rough ride abuses him. This type of love draws your eye, because endurance of the human flock is more than a spectacle.
But today, as the sky is glowing pearlesque, the only human in sight is the lonely boy, Mickey Gammon.
For this morning's observatory, you use the structure that looks and sometimes turns like a big eggbeater.
Down the mountain in the valley of the Settlement, a rooster crows, setting off four more. You cock your head.
The boy is smoking as always, but this is the first time you've seen him here at the crown of St. Onge creation, the Wind Project. The bull mastiff of the wind structures, tallest, heaviest, is designed in the way of the old countries, you have heard them say. Wooden door to the room where the windmill crews go in and out, straining with recharged batteries for their buggies and the few cottages that aren't in the open. The rest of the working wind plants are on modern steel derricks and wooden poles: two-blade windmills and eggbeater ones and a couple made with old barrels painted a sharp yellow.
As you study the boy, he is studying the mighty force of 47 chest-high, nonutility, no-purpose-whatsoever, purely artistic windmills, child-made — charming pink, purple, and grasshopper-green monuments to that struggle of human children of all recorded time to learn the tricks of their elders' huge and bubbling civilizations.
Mickey Gammon, whom you think of as the Tree Boy, tosses his cigarette butt and gets to his feet from where he has been sitting on the frosty step of the Old World windmill. He circles around on the edge of the steep drop-off of ledges that overlook the east. He sees way down there the narrow end of the pond that the humans have renamed Promise Lake, the names lining up down through the ages. And there, the village of East Egypt, where obscene spots of orangey commercial electric light hither and yon pose as security.
You, crow, watch him very carefully as he steps to the edge.
The School on Heart's Content Road © 2008 by Carolyn Chute, and reprinted with permission of Atlantic Monthly Press.