Memory Glimpse

Trees and rain

In the woods across the street from the house, things died regularly. Leaves, trees, frogs, moles, bigger things, I'm sure. The woods somehow smelled like this death without ever being frightening or disgusting. It was just the wet, rotten undercurrent of everything: games of tag, long walks, tree–climbing. The strongest memory I have associated with this moribund wetness is the mole's burial. We found it, not yet stiff. The woods' colors are all shades of brown, and the light is gray. Under the top layer of leaves is mulch. It is raining, but the trees' crowns slow it to a drip. We dig a hole, with our hands, through the mulch, into the soft black earth below. For years, I never knew, at least from experience, that dirt could be anything but thick and loamy and nutrient–rich. We placed the mole in its tiny grave and marked the refilled hole with a cross of twigs. The moment was solemn, important somehow. Someone said a few words, but didn't worry about getting them right. The weightiness just required words, any, to be said in a particular hushed tone. Back home, our hands still carried the dirt, and smelled of death, not the mole's animal death, but the general decay that we knew as woods–smell.