by J. Oren Stevens
He crunches through cool, wisping shadows of a slope rooted regiment of pines. Stepping out of the forest, he crosses a lonely backcountry road demarking conservation and forest product profiteering. Onto a hardscrabble fire road leading into barren clear-cut woodlands, a dead calf lay ripe in a cacophony of putridity. Beyond the swarm of flies lay a mangle of barbed wire the size of a car, and dozens of foreboding POSTED signs punctuating a fence line. The sun is summer hot in the shadeless acres of thorny brambles, while four black buzzards circle low, and piles of coyote scat tell a story of moonlit carnage. Turning back, he passes lemon Swallowtail butterflies, and purple moths dancing on the blooming carcass, and he drops his bag to dance with them, twisting back and forth across the road between shadow and light.
J. Oren Stevens survives Maine, finds beauty in the harsh reality of nature, and has learned to give humans the same latitude.