Hero’s Journey: Itinerary

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Day 1: Welcome to Your Journey.

Bike the rugged mountain paths. Fracture bones.

Carve a scar into your chin.

 

Day 2:

You are still biking. Now shower. Now put on your best clothes. Now shave your scarred chin.

Recite a poem you know by heart. You did not bring a poem?

Your leaders have brought extras.


Meet Your Leaders: Carson

Grew up poor. Became captain of high school football team. Also basketball. Also tennis.

Traveled to South America, built hospitals and schools with his hands.

Later, backpacking and captaining the football team through Europe, studied global economics and Tai Chi. Became Tai Chi master. Became famous economist. You probably have heard of him if you know things about international travel or Tai Chi or global economics.


Day 3-4:

You will raise livestock from seed, like the ancients.

You will build a barn. The hot sun will beat down on you.

You will dream, in the heat, about your father, frail in his hospital bed. The windows cracked open and a breeze that smelled of honeysuckle, its sour perfume in late summer.

You will slaughter the livestock you raised and eat it. You will sleep fitfully beneath the stars.

 

Day 5:

You will hike the mountain trails.

You will watch as the others talk in groups. You will stand alone, staring down at your hands, which look monstrous and broken in this thinning light.

Take a cool dip in the mountain stream. Walk behind the waterfall.

Hold yourself in your scarred hands in the dark while the others sleep.

 

Meet Your Leaders: Kyle

All-American. World class. Nomad cowboy.

In New Zealand he was a warrior poet. His face smudged with the paint of battle.

Meditation. Resistance stretching. Animal strength.

Invented toys. Played cello. Picked apples.

Set broken bones. Rode bulls. Ate bugs.

 

Day 6-8: Camping in the Wilderness

Are you afraid to die alone? You will be.

Here is a compass. Here is a can of preserved beef. Here is a pen and a blank journal in which to record your final thoughts in the pitch-dark night, the air so cold you will hunt and kill a bear with your fists and your beef can and your raw fury just so that you can gut him and sleep inside his hot putrid skin.

Around the campfire, you will remember the songs your mother taught you when you were small.

 

Day 9:

Today you will ride the Bull.

 

Day 10:

Now you will write of your journey. Make a list of your broken places.

You will close your eyes and you will be eleven years old again and floating in your mother’s arms on the lake she used to take you on Sunday afternoons just the two of you and you will lie there, her arms beneath you as you float and the sky so blue and cloudless and the water so warm and your mother so perfumed and young that you believed she would live forever.

Photo By: Carlo Scherer




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About Author

Mary-Kim Arnold’s short fiction has appeared at Tin House (online), Wigleaf, Swarm Quarterly, and The Pinch. Her poems have been published in Day One, Year One: Best of 2014, burntdistrict, Two Serious Ladies, Sundog Lit, and elsewhere. She has also written for HTML Giant, The Lit Pub, and The Rumpus, where she is Essays Editor. Mary-Kim received her MFA in Fiction from Brown University and is studying poetry at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She blogs sporadically at http://mkimarnold.com/ and is @mkimarnold on twitter. She plays bass in the band WORKING and lives in Rhode Island with her husband and children.

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