lost in the woods

SOMETIME IN THE WINTER, I took a ride out to the woods outside of town. This patch of forest is nothing spectacular, some trails rising and falling, a waterfall in the middle. I almost never see people in these backwoods trails, though now and then there is a white van parked there on the outskirts, which I am sure is used for disposing of dead bodies or doing countryside dope deals. It seems like that kind of place. I went out there to get a woman out of my mind, of course. For days she had been pounding in my head like a furious migraine, and it seemed I could do nothing to rid myself of her spirit. No consultations with a bevy of psychologists, healers, and tarot card readers could alleviate the spell. I wanted her and I wanted her bad and I hated her for how badly I wanted her, and I hated her for making me want her when she was nowhere to be found, invisible to me, and maybe even oblivious to my aching want for her. Of course, I didn’t hate her though. I loved her, if such desire could be called love. The hatred or frustration was actually for myself, the aspect of myself that couldn’t be suppressed or controlled. The part of myself that belonged to her. That part of me that she knew she possessed. There I was, lost in the woods, looking for solutions that couldn’t be found, looking for an escape, a way out. It was inescapable though. With a look, she could make me lift heavy objects, loan her money, give her rides, and — most dangerously — significantly increase the Estonian population. One cannot underestimate the life force that flows through the male body when aroused. It is this energy that led men to erect the pyramids in the sands of Ancient Egypt, or to board ships to circle the globe. The same otherworldly force that makes the waves roll or the heavenly bodies spin. We are at its mercy. So why are we always told that we have a choice? Or, even worse, that we create our own realities. Nonsense. There is give and take, but you can’t really expect me to believe that when a woman’s spirit starts to incubate within your heart that you have a choice. The most infuriating aspect is that many women are aware of the control and sway they have over their men. They know they are inside before we even wake up to this new dawn. They know they have us dancing on their fingertips. They revere and worship the strong man, who doesn’t give up so easily, but only because he has not given them what they want just yet and, oh, how they want it. “Women maintain a variety of energetic connections,” one of these faith healers admitted to me. “They know when someone is close, and they know when someone is far. They can sense it.” They do. How many men haven’t experienced a situation when, shortly after a breakup, while meeting with some new interest, suddenly their phones start to vibrate and ring, because their former partner senses — somehow, miraculously — that their man is slipping away. Even more curious are the cases of the women who leave their men and take on new lovers, but keep the old partner around just in case he is needed to screw in a lightbulb or fix a broken appliance. It is not so much about love, is it? It’s about some kind of intangible telepathic control. Which is not to demonize women or make them out to be manipulative. Not at all, I say. I think it’s just the way things happen, and they are probably just as much at the mercy of their own gravitational forces as we are. They can’t control the men they pull, either but, for whatever reason, they keep on pulling them in like fish. Why do they always pull certain men, while those they desire remain beyond their reach? There are no easy answers, but I continue to study these things out of  curiosity. In my study of blues music and folklore, I learned that in the Deep South long ago, Black and Indian women used to carry pouches around their waists that would dangle near their genitals. Into these sacks — called nation sacks, for the Indian nations that wore them — they would have keepsakes of the men they wanted to control — a lock of hair, or some personal item like a ring or coin. This is how they kept their men under their influence.  It occurred to me in the woods that day that there were probably multiple women out there walking the land who were carrying pieces of my soul in such little charmed bags. Yet I decided not to resist in the end if only because it was exhausting. Maybe being possessed isn’t worth the fight. It’s better and easier to surrender. And sometimes, you must admit, it does feel wonderful to be possessed.

An Estonian version of this column appears in the April 2021 issue of Anne ja Stiil.

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