There wasn’t much to write about after that, though. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t come up with anything else. I felt dissatisfied. I thought I’d discover something new, something powerful that would heal me. That’s what Moses said the whole thing was supposed to lead to. When it didn’t, I took to walking in the bush alone again. I felt as though nothing had changed. I felt as though the only thing I had done was quit drinking. Only the land offered me any kind of solace. So I walked every day for a while and explored the territory behind the New Dawn Centre.

A family of beavers had a lodge in the middle of a small pond a few miles into the woods. I’d sit in the cedars and watch them. They were delightful. That day they stayed active all through the afternoon, and when they finally disappeared into their lodge, it was early evening and my chances of making it back to the centre were not good. I walked up to a small table of rock I knew of. There was a lot of deadfall there, and I gathered enough for a good fire. If anyone came looking for me, they’d see it.

The night was alive with stars. I lay on my back on the moss and watched them. The longer I watched them, the more I could sense the earth turning in the heavens. It was late when I fell asleep.

I don’t know if I was awake or dreaming when I heard a sound in the trees. There was a slip of a moon in the sky and a low fog hung just above the ground. The air was still. The fog amplified every rustle of movement in the trees, and far off I could hear the cautious steps of deer. But the sound that woke me did not belong to an animal. It was like a moan, a low humming. It died off, then came again a moment later. This time I scanned the line of trees, but there was nothing. Only the fog. Then a shape began to appear. At first it was just a blur, but as I stared the dim shape moved closer. It didn’t walk. It floated. My guts cramped with fear. But I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The moan came again. It sounded desolate. Human.

I began to see the shape of a person and behind it something huge and lumbering. I was prepared to bolt, but the voice, now easing into an Ojibway song, held me in place. As the strange duo drew near, the human shape moved one arm, and I could see that the big shape behind it was a horse.

The sheaths of fog parted, and I was looking at a man I knew was my great-grandfather. He was dressed in a traditional smock and pants with a porcupine quill headpiece. In one hand he held an eagle wing fan, and with the other he led the horse by a rope braided from cedar root. His song was low, and he walked in the measured step of it, coming to a halt mere yards from me. Shabogeesick was old. Terrifically old and thin. I could see the jut of his bones beneath the smock, and the spray of wrinkles running down his face. But his eyes were sharp and steady, and he regarded me curiously. He raised the eagle wing fan and shook it at me. As he passed it over his body, I saw my father, my mother. My brother. My uncle. My aunt. My grandmother. I wept at the sight of them. My grandmother held a finger to her lips and crinkled the corners of her eyes at me. Then they turned, and the old man lifted my grandmother up onto the horse’s back. My family walked slowly into the depths of the fog, and I could hear them singing as they retreated. I closed my eyes, feeling an incredible weight of grief and longing, and when I opened them again the slender silver arc of the moon hung high above me. The fire had died down. I threw another piece of wood on it and sat with my arms hugging my knees. I cried again as I stared into those orange flames. I sat there all night, and when the first grey light of morning eased upward I kicked dirt over the fire to kill it. I was leaving again. Only this time I knew exactly where I was going.