News from the North
I’m 35. Not particularly old, not particularly young.
I can run and jump. I feel it in my knees the next morning. My son is five months. Such a tiny sliver of lifetime yet substantial enough that it’s hard to look past and remember anything without him. Those pre-Levin memories are there, but I’m starting to see them as blips in a deepening fog. The kid casts a long shadow. We’re together tonight in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Peter Gabriel is full blast even though my wife rolls her eyes
, says he’s too eighties. She’s out for the night. The boy and I are YouTubing like mad, digging deep into the Gabriel archive. The temperature has dropped and the leaves have dropped. My son is five months alive and our friends, five months pregnant, just lost the baby
. There was life in the womb and now, suddenly, there isn’t. So Levin and I built a fire in the stove in the middle of the kitchen and we fed it until the house hit seventy, then seventy-two, humming heat, and we shouted at the universe for the things we’ve lost
: him, for the wooden dowel on which he had been chewing that fell to the floor and me, for our friends who now grieve, for justice and its absence, for Stephen Biko who was murdered in a South African interrogation room in 1977 and for Paul Yoder, killed on a Pennsylvania highway. For all those we miss. Levin shouted at the universe and he shook his fist, a little bob of his curled fingers the way folks say “yes” in sign language, and he sobbed so full of agony and longing (I swear I’m not pumping this full of writerly hyperbole—he really wanted that dowel) that he sucked in a deep breath and, suddenly, he had caught the universe’s attention. There was a kind of heavy pause. A colossal second of silence. The cosmos was all ears. And what does one say when the universe is listening?
Do you protest? Do you praise? Do you unscroll your list of demands and stammer through it before that window snaps shut? My little boy chose to coo, but only after I picked up the wooden dowel and gave it back to him. He put it in his mouth and clamped it between his gum and two lower teeth and was satisfied. We live here now, on the shores of Lake Superior, portions of which are currently covered in ice. There are snowmen on the sandy snowy beaches outside, watching, looking outward at the waves, melting a little and refreezing and then melting some more. We are alive now in this kitchen by the lake rejoicing and grieving and swaggering shirtless around the fire when it all makes sense and when it doesn’t
. We dance around the fire tonight for our friends—god bless you god keep you god shine his face upon you—and we shake our fists at the universe (Levin’s so incredibly tiny) until—shhhh, son
—it actually listens.
Josh MacIvor-Andersen is the author of the memoir On Heights & Hunger, and the editor of Rooted, An Anthology of Arboreal Nonfiction, both forthcoming from Outpost19. His essays, reviews, and reportage have won numerous awards and nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and can be found in journals and magazines such as Gulf Coast, Paris Review Daily, Fourth Genre, Arts and Letters and many others.
Leave a comment
Comments will be approved before showing up.