Fugue - Spring 2013 (No. 44)

Page 49

Catherine Sustana

Maybe You’ve Been There

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ummer in Yellowstone: steam rises into snap-cold morning air, shards of light glint off scattered patches of mountaintop snow. Elk graze. Bison preside. Sunlight shimmers through sulfuric pools, goldenrod and aquamarine. Geysers billow white across the blue-drenched sky—a sky so expansive it dwarfs the jagged mountains below. Clouds sweep wide over the brittle landscape. This is a primal place, a wise place, a place where the earth steams and seethes with pristine indifference. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe one morning you abandoned your briefcase and your dry-cleaned clothes to flee to a place with thin, clean air and sunlight so bright it could shine right through you. And maybe as you milled around the airport in your flannel shirt and hiking boots, you allowed yourself—though you knew it was ridiculous—to feel somehow more authentic and insightful than all the pressed and pleated business travelers dashing toward their connecting gates, wheeling their luggage madly behind them. Maybe you landed in Jackson Hole and drove your rental car through the elk-horn arches, then through a hundred miles of moonless night. At Grant Village, you fumbled in the dark with your tent stakes and sleeping bag, fell asleep hardly knowing where you were, and woke in the stillness of the early morning to the smell of pine trees and extinguished campfires. When you stepped outside your tent, the supersaturated blue of the lake left you breathless. You shook off sleep and set out driving again, buoyant with light and space and clean, clean air. Old Faithful erupted as if it had been waiting for you, and somehow it seemed like a sign, the entire park erupting with so much promise—so much promise that you hardly noticed the two disheveled hitchhikers you passed later that

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