At the end of June, the days near one hundred. The sun makes me sticky and the clouds bring no respite. But still I look out my window and see swaying green trees and blue sky and thank providence all over again that I live in Colorado.
In July the flowers begin to frizzle, their colors and the green of the trees saturate into spilled paint, deepening and muddying and blurring. Smoke from the wildfires makes the sky yellow and brings screaming sunsets at dusk. Somewhere behind them, the blue is hidden.
In August, we simply wait for September.
In September life accelerates again. Kids go back to school. Jobs pick up. Everyone takes a breath during restorative cool nights before we have to worry about the cold days of winter ahead.
In October of this year, the shadow of Mars retrograde reaches its termination and the madness that officially started on June 26—what madness, everything is mad—will show us its end point, its truth and its consequences. That’s what the astrologers say anyway. With every end point, every truth, every consequence we have experienced already, what fresh fork will veer off the road and divert all of us with it, what fork we haven’t already stumbled down, slept upon, lolled beside in stunned inertia.
What new fork brings us to November, to a month we have to care about, a day we have to lay claim to, in a year on its way to ending, a year we’d all sooner forget but cannot.
What fork, those of us who are bone-tired are asking. What fork will give us liberty or give us death. What fork will reveal itself to every traveler, for we are all travelers—the brave among us, the separated, the crying, the angry, the inconsolable, the resigned, the stoic, the ecstatic, the pathological, the pure, the silent. The ones who have not noticed they are even traveling at all, and will not, until some time later when they wake up and discover they are in an unfamiliar place.
This is the work of Mars, god of war, the astrologers point out. Not to destroy like Ares, but to bring peace. Peace that won’t be apparent for a few more years, for the stars play a long game. No, first there must be madness. Amnesia. Bloodthirst. Trickery. Cost. There must be something in each of us that breaks down. There must be reckoning.
The work is of the haul, the uphill climber, the ascent into altitude where there is less oxygen but an infinite view. Where the blue is June blue all the time. Where it pieces you back together, holds you in suspension, and opens the flow of memory: “Oh yes. Yes, I remember. It doesn’t repeat. It rhymes. And we can simply end the verse when we decide to.”