His left eye was completely gone. The skin around his right eye hung in deep folds beneath it, the lower eyelid stretched and turned outward, weeping, a dark red color– the same deep red as the stone we had just bought. Out of that horrible socket, though, his eye slowly focused on my face as I held onto it with my own gaze. Bonjour, Monsieur, comment ça va, I said softly, and watched the light in his eye brighten ever so slightly. It was as if he — the man inside this ravaged body — were swimming up from a great depth, having almost forgotten how. We looked at each other, and something like a smile formed on his face. Merci, he said. Merci.
I live in an Appalachian hollow in the Juniata watershed of central Pennsylvania, and spend a great deal of time walking in the woods. Here’s a bio. All of my writing here is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For attribution in printed material, my name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact me for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).