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Tuesday, October 19, 2021


by Gus Peterson

Gary Paulsen, a prolific writer whose young-adult novels like “Hatchet” and Dogsong” inspired generations of would-be adventurers with tales of survival, exploration and nature red in tooth and claw, died on Wednesday [October 13] at his home in Tularosa, N.M. He was 82. Photo by Brian Adams. —The New York Times, October 14, 2021

for Gary Paulsen
Today you slipped like a plane
beneath that nameless lake.
And who could blame you
for disembarking now?  
My newsfeed this morning:
moose in Vermont drunk dry
by 90,000 ticks, another friend
diagnosed with Lyme. There is
nowhere we can’t kill us anymore.
In Nunavut the water asphyxiates
with gas and there are still days I am
crashing, where I google a map of this
world and try to land on any thumbprint
of blue. Tell me, was it like discovering
fire, the moment you realized just how
fucked we are? I want to pull your book
down off the shelf and be that type of free
again. I return home, walk woods I walked
with it in hand. Here a splash of wintergreen
harvested for tea, the ring of blackened stone
driving back darkness. One last shelter resisting
its ruin, and in that small space two had lain
down their love on a blanket twined through
leaves and needles. Imagine their wildness,
the heavy plumes of breath ghosting up,
a floor pressed dry and soft to quivering skin
though the roof hadn’t been patched
since middle school.

Gus Peterson lives in Maine.