The old man is going to die soon and he is thinking about losing things. He reaches back, deep into the pockets of himself, tracing the outlines of moments so faded they are barely within reach, wondering how so much lifetime can be regulated to such a small container. Because that is how it feels, when he looks around at the meagre offerings the present affords him, that there is no way for them to contain the fullness of what he has lived.
And he tries to remember how it felt in the beginning, when he traversed moments in bounds instead of increments, moved with something baser than instinct, like tree roots grown away from sunlight, amidst abrasions of rock and silted undertow, the refuse of time unguided that would block and break paths he had yet to breathe. But movement effortless, then, delineation navigated through the accumulation of experience rather than evidence, because that was enough. Then. He barely remembers this.
And when he tries to decipher the transformation, he thinks about the moment when tree root breeches earth for lighted security, and exhale of welcome is paid for with swift death of journey. And it is like no welcome ever received, for this one holds hands with every cellular moment, every prodigal memory, saying yes, saying yes, you belong here. And there is fuel in that, as memory transforms hardship into momentum, as rejuvenation rises like floodwater, and growth ensues.
And he thinks about the time after that moment, passed under spread and reach of comfort, the easy accumulation of beauty. But seasons change and namesakes follow, and moments, like leaves, retract their languid positions. Soon the ground is littered with the detritus of bounty and harsh sting of frost accompanies the knowledge that nothing was done to preserve this, no shelter forged, no thought given towards lessons learned in youth.
And the long-toothed, salted regret like winter, the frozen hours to accompany each memory of colour, of all that was wasted in the drunk of abundance. His awe at the fleetness of bounty, even the leaf carcasses gone, crumpled and sodden in rainwater, canonized in snow bank burials, beyond reach of reunion, nearly beyond memory, the faded articulation of clarity, of sunlight, the woven, weighted ventricles of loss and truth.
He takes inventory of flesh and reason, testing for soft spots like a carpenter might search for hollows in a wall. He finds many, but also finds a latticework unsuspected, clinging like lichen to aged stump. And he follows them, traces these delicate fingers to see that he has grown beyond the past that would define him, beyond the accumulation of experiences that would delineate or outline or contain him. He sees that there is no loss in willing submergence, so he submerges, willingly, into the last moments of himself. He finds shelter in the absence of memory or foliage, because it leaves room for the knowledge that while beginnings are beautiful and reverent and ever-moving, it is the endings that find you a way in.