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rock day, north dakota

Nearing the end of tour, bellies full of Fargo’s yellow butter we descended into a river valley somewhere near Minot, North Dakota. We were listening to the soothing voice of President Obama being interviewed by Marc Maron and I temporarily forgot that neoliberalism is bad. The burgundy curtains of our van were rippling like a tear drop in a wine glass. Golden Hour. Late June. The air was salted with cattle and Kentucky blue. The road ran straight past the writhing Souris river which left behind oxbow lakes as tokens- little scars filled with dew and confederate coins. Bleached antlers reach up from ragged fenceposts the Sioux’s skilled hands left behind.

New podcast. 99% Invisible. Children of the Magenta about the automation paradox- why a certain flight’s autopilot just shut off. Our camperized econoline, steady and consistent, trundled along the US-52 and I thought of equilibrium, and time, and harmony. “This was a canyon,” I muttered. Nobody heard me. There are pockets of sound inside which make it seem like we are each in our own little valley. A flash of white caught my eye on the slumping hill. A number? Another. Made of painted white rocks, 78 is faded. 95 is clear.

We were heading toward the border, but we had bought fireworks in Iowa. Later we would shudder at the mention of the town of Portal. But for now we had found an abandoned farmstead. I knew beforehand we would find this place, I wrote a song about it. One thing I failed to imagine was the heft of the clouds of gnats. The pyrotechnics in that Dakota twilight were laughable to them. The picaresque versus the picturesque. Now that the wolves have returned.

It’s how we remember the present, in the present, about the past. This will come up again. Do wolves change rivers? Is it solipsism? We lament the loss of the red fox, but nature isn’t gone- it’s waiting. I’m getting ahead of myself. Get it?

“Our future selves call us from infinite pasts, and each night are eroded with our dreams.” Equlibrium, harmony, time. The ebb and flow of our subconscious. The fluidity of all things. A river valley in North Dakota, with white stone numbers marking graduation years, isn’t ever the same river. Everything in flux. We were never there. We were there.

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