Mar/Apr 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 2 March 1, 2021 |

Currents and Eddies

2020 Kenyon Review Short Nonfiction Contest Runner-up I didn’t understand rivers any better than I understood myself in those days. Those fire-and-water days lay bare and confused under the eternal shadow of giant redwood trees. I was nineteen and stationed at a fire camp in the middle of trees so tall and a forest so thick that my senses often grew overwhelmed. I no longer recall how many of us lived there together, loud with youth, but I do recall how, within that belly of soft, wet moss, we ripened into a single-stemmed unit. We’d arrived from different places and were at various stages of a year-long contract with the California Conservation Corps (CCC). We’d been trained for this place and knew how to cut fire line, chop trees, and look for smoking root systems. Fight forest fires. Each of us had arrived broken. Like me, the others joined the Cs because they had no idea what else to do with their lives. Like me, most had grabbed onto drugs, sex, alcohol, and in some cas

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Mary O. Parker is the 2019 recipient of the Mississippi Review Creative Nonfiction Prize and the winner of Reed Magazine’s 2015 Gabriele Rico Challenge in Creative Nonfiction. Her book Explore Texas: A Nature Travel Guide (Texas A&M University Press, 2016) received an Excellence in Craft Award from the Texas Outdoor Writers Association. Mary O. lives on a small nature preserve in Central Texas.

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