Barkskins

69.

69 boreal

A constant stream of red-shirted choppers came and went, men from the north and coastal fishermen—Irish, Bluenoses, Province men, a few French Canadians, St. Francis Indians, Passamaquoddy and Mi’kmaq, and P. I.s—men from Prince Edward Island—and sometimes a man from foreign shores. There were always two or three Québécois running from the impoverished habitant life. The

All must pay the debt of nature.

As he cut, the wildness of the world receded, the vast invisible web of filaments that connected human life to animals, trees to flesh and bones to grass shivered as each tree fell and one by one the web strands snapped. After

But,” she said sadly, “I could not become an Indian.” “Of course not,” said Dr. Mukhtar. “There is a whole world of signs, symbols and spirits which all must be absorbed from birth. You could not hope to grasp the meanings except by living the entire life.” She could not, she explained to Dr. Mukhtar, express affection except by teaching, holding out books as tokens of love. When at last light the doctor, exhausted from listening, stood to go to his room above for the night and pinched out the candle, she begged him to leave the curtains and the window open. The door closed gently and she could look at the moon, a blood-streaked egg yolk rolling in the shell of sky. •

December brought stone-silent days though a fresh odor came from the heavy sky, the smell of cold purity that was the essence of the boreal forest. So

In every life there are events that reshape one's sense of existence. Afterward, all is different and the past is dimmed.

Inside Duquet something like a tightly closed pine cone licked by fire opened abruptly and he exploded with incensed and uncontrollable fury, a life’s pent-up rage. ‘No one helped me,’ he shrieked, ‘I did everything myself. I endured. I contended with powerful men. I suffered in the wilderness. I accepted the risk I might die. No one helped me!’ The boy’s gaze shifted, the fever-boiled eyes following Duquet’s rising arm closing only when the tomahawk split his brain.

Inside Duquet something like a tightly closed pine cone licked by fire opened abruptly and he exploded with incensed and uncontrollable fury, a life’s pent-up rage. ‘No one helped me,’ he shrieked, ‘I did everything myself. I endured. I contended with powerful men. I suffered in the wilderness. I accepted the risk I might die. No one helped me!’ The boy’s gaze shifted, the fever-boiled eyes following Duquet’s rising arm closing only when the tomahawk split his brain.

James said, “Who are these lawless men who cut your—our—timber?” “Every man!” Edward said angrily, spit flying. “They are mostly small, mean men seeking to make some money. But there are so many of them. They are often savage hungry fellows who stop at nothing. They fight the owners until blood flows and heads are cracked. Even when we catch and prosecute them, they and their friends slip back at night and continue cutting. Settlers, failed businessmen, shingle makers and clapboard sawyers, those are the thieves. And moonlight nights see many good pines fall.

Kuntaw died on the most beautiful day in a thousand years. The October air was sweet and every faint breath a pleasure. Wind stirred and he said, “Our wind reaching me here.” A small cloud formed in the west. “Our small cloud coming to me.” The hours passed and the small cloud formed a dark wall and approached. A drop fell, another, many, and Kuntaw said, “Our rain wetting my face.” His people came near him, drawing him into their eyes, and he said, “Now . . . what . . .” The sun came out, the brilliant world sparkled, susurration, liquid flow, stems of striped grass what was it what was it the limber swish of a released branch. What, now what. Kuntaw opened his mouth, said nothing, and let the sunlight enter him.

Nothing in the natural world, no forest, no river, no insect nor leaf has any intrinsic value to men. All is worthless, utterly dispensable unless we discover some benefit to ourselves in it—even the most ardent forest lover thinks this way. Men behave as overlords. They decide what will flourish and what will die. I believe that humankind is evolving into a terrible new species and I am sorry that I am one of them.

Nothing in the natural world, no forest, no river, no insect nor leaf has any intrinsic value to men. All is worthless, utterly dispensable unless we discover some benefit to ourselves in it—even the most ardent forest lover thinks this way. Men behave as overlords. They decide what will flourish and what will die. I believe that humankind is evolving into a terrible new species and I am sorry that I am one of them. The

Oh, he was ever a leading spirit in controversies," Bernard said. "I well remember his sentiments. He believed that men, when confronted with a vast plenitude of anything, feel an irresistible urge to take it all, then to smash and destroy what they cannot use." (4th Estate, London, 2016, p. 211.)

That world he wanted them to know had vanished as smoke deserts the dying embers that made it.

The forest had many edges, like a lace altarpiece.

Their faces were scarified in hideous whorls and dots. As for clothing, they dressed in vegetable matter. Another

The old forests are going and once they are gone we will have to wait a thousand years or more to see their like. Though nothing will be allowed such a generous measure of time to grow.

The thing American people fear about corporations is that they might achieve too much power. We have an antipathy to power even as we admire it.

Why shouldn’t things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very well together. George