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Miner's Apparition

I didn’t notice her at first, a sleepwalking apparition-grey against the melting spring snow. I had gone down for water and on the trail back up as I stumbled through the aspen groves and up into the meadow there she was, suddenly, calmly surveying. She stared at me, then turned and loped back into the aspens, back into the half light of morning. I blinked and the cold morning air hit my neck and I wondered if I had really seen her. And then it happened again, a few mornings later. And so we met this way, mornings, as I came down from the claim at daybreak to fetch water. This was my ritual, my religion, and I felt as if I was chasing this silent oracle of the mountains. I never told the other boys back at camp about her. They’d shoot her first thing and I never wanted that.  After all, we had moved into her neighborhood without introduction and stayed, clawing at the ground, turning over the earth to make a living up here on top of the mountain. And then just as suddenly the vein dried up and we had to shut it down, and on the last morning before we tore down camp and had to move out, I went down to see her, to see if she would be there to say goodbye like some romantic, cinematic moment playing in my mind. She was absent of course, and I realized as I stood staring at the cold corner of the open field, the bone white aspens waxing deathlike in the fallow grass, that perhaps I was just another apostle searching for answers in the wilderness.


See the Miner's Apparition collage >>