By way of a steel ladder in, and down.

Above, on the surface, a landscape of scars and industrial remains – mining vehicles and paraphernalia, abandoned when the will to dig faded, investors backed out, the seams exhausted. Tractors with shed tracks, shacks, winching: to detail the derelict machines would be irrelevant, not economical, not profitable, for the winter is modernity here, and the winter, for the foreseeable future, is the future.

The signs of human intervention are really the signs, too, that the winter here was, for the most part, the past.

The rails go into the winter, and the forest.

There are no subjects here. There is no discourse: no demand for speech, no ears to listen. No assertions are required, no negations prompted. No eulogies, elegies, allegories, categories: no litanies, no inventories. No pauses for effect. No stops.

If the wolves come, their eyes glow a vivid orange if the snow has freshly fallen and the wolves glance up and in certain directions. The sun is low, and there are no dead here, just as there are no living.

Elk, occasionally. Frequent blizzards. In the brief summers, clouds of mosquitoes, and the rotting sleepers of the railway line sink and crumble further into the swamp, warping steel.

A landscape remembers nothing. There are no memories. The wind keeps no diary, the snow’s journal buries itself and melts and is merely the record of a blank: the record is then overwritten by another blank – and if time could pass here, then all that would happen would be that time would pass here. But no time passes, because a landscape remembers nothing, and there are no memories.

As the planet turns, and the sun retreats, winter restores itself: sap slows, shrivels, accumulated fat begins to wane, sleeping mammals, wrapped in darkness, dreamless, in the pomp of their furs, are unaware of how they skeletonise over the raw months of their voyage, and will wake to weakness and to hunger. They were not kings or queens, and they will not be beggars: they had no riches, they will have no rags.

The wolves go into the forest, and then there are no wolves. There is no forest.

There is no winter. There is no snow.

Lastly, and firstly.

Down.

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