Why Would It Not?
Percy said to Starr, “Of course, it would begin here in Maine. Why would it not?
It would begin with the people and the place of the first light.”
She wrapped both her arms around his right arm and hugged her face against
the shoulder of his canvas barn jacket, snuggling herself into him. It was cold in the
early dawn. There was a stiff wind off the sea. Soon they would light their fire. But first
they would follow the rest of their way down the creek, with its swift plunge of stream
water and chunks of ice before it emptied into the salt ocean.
She looked up his chest and asked, “Will we be in time?”
“For our fire?”
She said no more. They stood quietly together while listening to the urgent rush
of the stream. A vee of geese passed overhead. Percy could hear the whirr of their
wings beating the air, and she their honking calls while they tightened up their
“Let’s go,” he said.
“Steady me,” she replied. “The rocks are round and wet. I don’t want to fall.”
He smiled down at her, which she could scarcely see, but she could hear the
smile in his confidence. “You won’t fall. I have you.”
“Yes, you do.” Then she muttered something.
“What was that?”
“I hope you always will.”
He chuckled. “Me too.”
They were descending along the south side of the stream. Their way pressed
across barrens and through occasional flurries of shrubs, bayberry and rugosas and
fern. Especially the fern, when they tramped it, released a fresh scent of sweet licorice –
“We’re getting close,” Percy murmured. “Hear those waves?”
“Maybe only fifty more yards. That’s where I laid the fire.”
They arrived at the spot. Percy had lain a medium sized fire of mostly down
wood, white pine mostly, and he sat her down on a large flat rock while he busied
himself with his match. Percy is a one-match man, always has been. Make it work or
The fire was set on the high gravel of the shoreline, above the final high brown
swaths of dried rockweed. He had kicked out a shallow dent in the beach and set the
fire there. He had left a hole for himself in the side of the fire, and he knelt and struck
his match and reached through the hole to where his tinder sticks and pine bark and
dried grasses were bunched together. He shielded the tiny flame with his body from the
Ah! There it goes!
He knelt back.
He took a long, deep breath and blew it out again.
“Oh, Percy,” he heard from his woman.
He turned to look at her. She was beginning to be visible. She wore her cable-
knit tunnel-neck sweater, cream colored, above lined jeans, topped with her thin
windbreaker, also cream, and her waxed-cotton down vest, in darkest gray. And Bean
boots of course.
She had always seemed gorgeous, from the first, from that night on the island off
Port Clyde, at the picnic, when she had won his heart. And that was all such a very
long time ago – months. Later, they had made their way to this very tip of eastern
Washington County, on Gleason Point, near Perry. The two of them would be the first
humans to see the sun on this particular day.
At the end of their long drive from Castine, he had dropped her for a hot bath and
a long nap at a Chet’s camp on Big Lake, had driven to a spot near this very place on
the last shore, and had built his fire and had gone back to get her.
“Mmmm,” she had moaned when he woke her, naked and warm, and then after
they had enjoyed themselves for quite a while, they had dressed for cold and had
meandered their way to Pembroke and stopped for supper at Sue’s Cobscook Bay
Café, parked beside the jeeps and 4-wheels out front, and had gone in to enjoy a
chicken and pepper jack quesadella (she) and a corned beef Reuben (he).
And now it was dawn and they were back, and the fire was rising and the smoke
smelled good, and there was a wide horizontal ladder of cloud rungs stretching all the
way across the sky in its lower quadrant, darker than amber, graying at each extreme to
north and south, and with a one-quarter sun just over the horizon glowing brightly in a
pleasing harmony of red-orange and orange-red.
“Oh, goodness,” Starr murmured. “Can we live here?”
“No. It’s not ours. It’s theirs.”
“The Passamaquoddy’s and the Penobscot’s and the Micmac’s. We stole it from
“I don’t want to use the G-word, so I won’t. But then we stole their children.”
Starr fell quiet. “I know about that, a little at least.”
“I suppose you would know about it a little. What you do.”
She said, “Come over here and sit next to me and put your arm around me, and
we can look at the sunrise and be the very first to see it this day, in the land of the
dawn, and we can enjoy your fire and not think about the bad things.”
“You’re not thinking about the bad things, are you?”
“No,” he lied.
She snuggled and sighed and whispered, “Me neither.”
She burrowed her mouth up over his collar and into the warmth of his hair. She
He whispered back. “Said I didn’t want to say it.”
“But I don’t know what it is.”
He took a breath and let it out. “Thenjust this once. Genocide.”
After a bit of silence, when the sun was fully above the horizon and the red-
orange and orange-red had become just red, Percy repeated, “Why would it be not?”
“Why would what be not?”
“Why would the healing not begin here?”
“I don’t get it.”
“We would protect the innocent, you and me. You and me, we would defend the
weak. We would exhibit the warrior spirit.”
“You’ve said that before.”
She smiled up at him and replied, “I know, too. It’s what you do.”
He nodded while staring out across the sea. “And I would do it again.”
“You can’t steal a people’s children. They need to be who they are. You can’t
stop them from being who they are. Not decent.”
“I love you, Percy.”
There was a long silence. Finally, he whispered, “Look at the dawn.”
She snuggled. “It’s just us.”
“Used to be thousands of them.” He looked at her. “I’ve got a little drum.”
He nodded. “Let’s dance.”
He pulled the small drum from the broad pocket of his barn coat and began
tapping it with its stick, which stick had a small gourd at its end with rattly seeds inside
it. He reached for Starr’s hand and pulled her to her feet in the sand. Holding her hand,
he guided her to take a few steps forward and then a few steps backward, while slowly
circling their fire to the right and while the dawn grew brighter.
He smiled at her and she gave him that smile that lifted him. “I danced here last
night,” he said. “After I built the fire. It was dark, and the wind was cold.”
“Yes, and God spoke to me.”
“Yes. In that gravelly voice of His.”
“What’d He say?”
They continued to dance while Starr thought.
“No quick repairs. Maybe that. Just touch the one of them, who needs to be
Starr slowed her dance and then stopped. She faced Percy, each of them
limned with dawn. She grinned. “It’s like the starfish story.”
Percy grinned back. “I can’t save all of them,” he quoted.
Starr nodded, “But, Percy, you can save that one.”
She stood on tiptoe and kissed his mouth.
“It’s what you do.”