: Far Woods :

an excerpt by Brenden Willey


Nathan plunged into the woods. He moved quickly down the path, his boots warping over treeroots and rocks risen partly from the ground and scuttling like woodrats through the dead brush at his feet. Above him two birds fled their nest in a fury of wings and lit on close trees to cry warning, and the woods otherwise resounded with silence. At last, through a break in the trees ahead, he saw the corn patch that marked the end of the path. And then it was before him: row upon row of short green stalks, fresh cuts in the clay around them.

No one was about in the yard beyond the corn but he could hear the guttering sound of the tractor and he looked to his father’s shed. A square structure built of a tin roof and three walls the color of tanned cowhide. Stained the fall before by him and Ben and their father, who had soaked the woodboards with a burnt oil and kerosene mixture they dipped out of buckets with old straw brooms. He pictured them sweeping the walls, shirtless; they’d smelled of kerosene for days.