The milkweeds bend in the winter wind, their brown husks emptied of their seed. I look out my bedroom window, and feel the breath of cold air against my face. The walls of this farmhouse seem as thin as tissue paper in this wind. It is late afternoon, but already the light is fading, the sun sinking beyond the hill until it becomes a purple bruise on the horizon. Behind and above me, the stars blink on like streetlights.
How long has it been? Nearly four years since I left home behind, and came north into this wind blasted country. Now my college years are almost over and I feel I know myself less than I did when I began. Who am I? What do I want? Where do I go now? Sooner or later I won’t be able to avoid these questions by burying myself in calculus and cheap beer.
The walls of this farmhouse sag, and seem to sigh in the wind. How many winters has it weathered since a farmer with a will as hard as an ax head cleared the land? If I close my eyes I can see him working late into the evenings, nailing planks and beams until this house rose from the rocky soil. The only fruit this land would ever bear.
I wonder what brought him to the northern edge of this country. Did he know the stony fields were too rocky, and the summers too short to grow crops? In the end he pastured cows, and picked fly specked apples from the trees before the October nights could freeze them. Clinging to the north slope of the Adirondacks, the hunger he felt was real. How it must have gnawed at his stomach until even the numbing wind was a relief.
The barn collapsed years ago, the wells out back boarded over, the stone walls he piled now home to rabbits. He was buried out among the weeds of the pasture, but even his grand children have forgotten where. Only the lichen covered stones can remember.
The wind traces patterns across the snowy fields, numbers and symbols of an equation long forgotten. The sky is dark now. I turn away from the window, and wonder what dark woods are out there, waiting to be cleared.