" If you could take my hand and lead me along the streets and paths with your free hand outstretched and finger pointing to a future place and say, That is where we are going.
Then even if what I saw ahead was chaos and pain, I could think,
There is no reason to fear after all.
If you could say, We will have to travel along separate roads battered by tumultuous weather, disappointment, starvation, hospitals, jails, and physical pain, but we are going There, to that point you see up ahead. There is where we will be together at the end.
But I start down the path without you.
I am just outside town exactly the size of a labor camp, but it has the opposite use. It is full of young people learning and living free. Prosperous, peaceful, bookish, and fresh. I am walking on a path that used to be a railroad track that ran to the town.
It is winter. Branches are broken, trees cracked by a recent ice storm. I cross over a bridge. On the right and below, where the river flooded and now is thick and iced, I see a deer hanging over the branch of a tree.
Velvety, frozen, not even the birds have set to eating it. The deer hangs like the fate of childhood among the branches and snow.
Everything has already happened at every step I take. I enter, with each move, the past of the place I am entering. This would be true on a city street, with people walking toward me. It would be true on a city street, with people walking toward me. I would be entering the face of their past, the would be entering mine. Everything would be over for all of us everywhere we stepped.
But wherever I step I am stepping into a place that was just finished at the moment I arrived. If I freeze here, one foot poised to go forward, to land on the path, I will at least be living in the present and the past will know it."
Fanny Howe, The Winter Sun