In a Fold of Green Leaf Shadows

By Karen L. Abrahamson

When I was a child, each year my family came to a fold of green-leaved forest that bound a black lake in their shadows. There, an ancient presence bred within the mountain bones.

The rain found us huddled under canvas wings spread over our Coleman stove, our table, ourselves mired in plastic coats and gum boots and huddled against the rains that ran down the dark stems of pine and spruce, and splayed across the broad leaves of maple and poplar. The earth stank of rain and rotting leaves. And down by the lake, by the slow river that uncoiled from it, the black cottonwood sent deep roots and high branches that caught at the rain, the wind, and sighed.

Sighing was what I did the summer of my tenth year, my gut twisted at Daniel. Daniel my brother. Daniel the usurper. Daniel, newly come to my family and the center of my parents world. Daniel seated at the table laughing with them.

“Come join us, Carla,” Mother offered.

I shook my head. I preferred to sit near the rain, to sigh with the black hearted cottonwoods. “I don’t like cards.”

Easier to say than ‘I don’t like this brother you’ve adopted. That, at ten, I didn’t understand what you meant when you asked if I wanted a brother. That I didn’t understand why you wanted a son. That I couldn’t breathe with their betrayal.’ Something wild uncoiled in me like a new-whorled fern, like something stirred in these mountains.

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