It’s alive, it always changes, it needs tending, and the boy,
who had left several in several woods and had thought it his worst crime,
discovered that all this time he had actually been good.
Gently, he moved in with her. First, he slept on the hay in the barn,
like a frost, so as not to be asked to leave because he’d made the horse hate him.
Then he slept in the kitchen by the door, like one of the long,
good people will sometimes keep. He killed rabbits and squirrels and brought home
the ones that hadn’t been rotting before he even shot them. She said
is a good companion, and the boy nodded. A wooden spoon or a
is also a good companion, but neither of them thought so, and no one should’ve
considered them strange, especially themselves, but they did.
One night they scarred the pine beam that had been cut and hung to make the mantle.
They wrote their names with the glowing end of the poker but then
pulled the wood down off the wall the next day. On the first polar night
they built a fire in the woods and fed it this part of their home.
As they raked up pine needles and twigs, she said a fire
grows best out of debris, just like a man. In no time at all, she said,
it's ready to bring down the greatest building around.