I started by building a house. I took an axe and chopped down a tree. I
chopped down several trees. I cut the limbs from all of them. I shaved the
stick-arms of their children. I used the saw to make each branch smaller.
I sectioned the trunks into usable pieces. I notched some and angled
others. I planed. I laid them in stacks until the stacks made walls, and I
made walls until the house had four of them, one on each side. I used logs
and limbs and branches to make triangles and I placed the triangles on
point to make a roof. I covered the roof in evergreen and moss. I covered
the roof in mud and sod. I covered the roof until there was a house to
live in. And when the first snow came, I built a chimney. And when the
first rain came I fashioned gutters. And when the first bout of sun came
and the cabin swelled with heat I walked outside naked, my body coated in
honey, and waited for the bears to come.
Inside of the house I made jam. I made strawberry jam and raspberry jam
and blueberry jam and blackberry jam. I picked the berries from nearby
hills and washed their skins in rain and sank them slowly in boiling sugar
and pulped them cool with my fingers. The difference between jam and jelly
is in the use of pectin, a glue of powdered bones. I made jam because
moving my hands over berries, mashing their fruit, it is an early kind of
When the first fox found my door he brought me a stick in his mouth, laid
it on the grass. I took the stick and tossed it away out into the field.
He was full of envy. He was jealous of my hands, he hated my white rounded
teeth. I could see it in him and the way his body slunk through our woods.
That evening he stood at the tree-line in a silky dusk and showed me how
he could tear meat using only with his paws and incisors. And I learned
that blood is always red, even in the strains of a forest. And that fox,
who was not my son, never walked my path again.
The second fox brought me a plug of grass in his mouth and set it in the
grass already grown around my doorstep. He yelped as he strode away and
his animal-moan sounded like a baby shrieking. He felt like my son and we
were playing a game of forest-tag, running the mountains. This second fox
was different from the first because he loved me and laid trinkets at my
cabin door. This second fox was different because I wanted to trap him and
wear his skin. This fox was my son and I was his father and I wanted to
open his fur and understand how it feels to be both inside of someone and
settled beneath them. Wrapped in this second fox's hide, I felt a new
And this second fox became more a part of me than my own real son, who was
not here building a cabin in the woods, who was living in a city made of
cardboard, underneath an overpass, smearing oil on his cheeks. This second
fox became a use: I made his bones into a crucifix that I hung above my
doorway, I made his bones into pectin for jelly-making. I smeared a
biscuit with jam and soaked his fox blood into my father's blood, the two
of us finally again talking about what it means to exist.