My friend Ellen once told me that turtles were one of her favourite creatures, and I hope she would have enjoyed this collage devoted to her memory.
I am a ruined barn, empty but smelling of ancient hay. I sit in a lost valley, no longer a shelter nor part of a living farm. I used to be warmer, to glow orange from lanterns on February mornings, to retain animal heat. Now my shadows fill in their outlines, brief flashes from the highway my only relief.
I am tired of being a relic, a rural ghost who attracts photographers from the city. Their insulting attention reminds me that I am just a skeleton of economies past, a symbol of romantic decay.
All my sounds are whispers and echoes now, where once I heard grunts, shouts, whinnies, cries of pain and hunger. It’s so quiet now. Ruin is quiet. My unsteady walls feel dry, brittle, so straw-like that one warm hand on my door would set me ablaze. I welcome this fire, this sweet extinction into ashes.
When it rains, I feel the blessed water soaking my beams, splashing through broken panes, swelling the hayloft floor so that I forget my ladder is broken and my stalls now shells that once held a family’s wealth and sustenance. I miss being whole. I miss being real. I miss the animals I used to protect.
Near the back garden of a trail-adjacent home rests an invitation: give your pet a drink of water and borrow some sidewalk chalk from the green box.
A group of young people had recently accepted the chalk invitation and left colourful words on the path to motivate the walkers, runners, and cyclists who would follow.
Thank you, anonymous messengers of encouragement!
Thank you, butterfly!
And many thanks to the kind hosts who filled the silver bowl with water and offered chalk for creative expression. You brightened my walk this morning!