Be Prepared

by df parizeau

As youth, my friends and I
always picked the coldest weekend
of the year to go camping.
The year we thought
we had finally mastered
the boy scout motto, my dad left us
16 km SSW from base camp;
Sorels and double-thick socks
are not designed for hiking:
we were not prepared.
The air was microcrystalline
and bit at our faces
like the blackflies of our
preferred season of recreation.
6PM hung a veil too dark
to use maps effectively: only our
combined knowledge of the stars,
compasses, and botany,
could lead the way.
Mother Nature had gently
placed a foot of fresh powder
the night before, carefully disguising
any semblance of human-made trails.
We’d have to create our own or,
use the paw prints of the various predators
we’d only read about in survival manuals:
no one had hand-to-hand
combat experience against a pack
of barbarous wolves--we set our eyes
on the tangled forest to our left.
We lined up,
hands on the
rucksack of
the boy in
front of us,
Tristan the lead,
Liam the rear,
helplessly through
the suffocating air.
Frost filled our
lungs and sandpapered
our tongues—
leaving a fresh,
iron-tinged mist
in our mouths.
Dribbling down
our chins, its crimson
trail the only shock
of colour
in the otherwise
monochromatic landscape
populated by the
paper-white snow,
ashen night sky, and
waxen tree trunks, whose
groans ached in unison
with our joints
as we lurched onward.
We were convinced
the white blanket
on the forest’s floor
would become our shroud.
followed by the
onset of warmth.
was dragging us into
eternal slumber.
Only the crackling hymn
of burning wood,
metres away,
contradicted this fate—
spitting the sweet
salvation of a roaring
bonfire through the
dense night air.
Reinvigorated by the
promise of a
hot cocoa and marshmallow
communion, we expended
our last measure of strength
to reach our destination, falling
prostrate at my father’s feet.
Chuckling at our
infantile state,
his response to our successful
expedition left us in a state
of numbness,
colder than
the hiemal elements
we had believed

The tents still need to be pitched.

Currently living as an uninvited guest on the unceded territories of the ʷməθkʷəy̓əm, sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and sel̓íl̓witulh First Nations, df parizeau is a multi-disciplinary writer who spends more time eavesdropping on conversations, than writing. His work has previously been featured in Sea to Sky Review, as well as W49 Magazine, Thin Air Magazine, as part of UBC's Green Flux exhibit, and is forthcoming in Lyre Magazine. df also has an upcoming chapbook in the works, that will feature pieces from his online poetry project, the eavestrough diaries.