Cutline: a slice of civilization through a forest; a ribbon pierced through timber.
I drive my Chev ¾ ton 4×4 through ruts on a muddy cutline and at the bottom of a hill there’s a bit of a swamp so Pal says, it can’t be deep; just go on through, so I say yeah and I giver and we hit the water and it’s deep and we jostle and shake forward until we high centre and the tires spin futile and the truck stops dead in wet clay mud.
I sigh. We step out into the sludge and struggle to string out the winch, attach it to a tree, turn it on and the truck is pulled forward inch by inch by inch by inch. We’re standing waist-deep in mud and I say to Pal, isn’t it something how we fight our way across this earth. Everything is a barrier yet we go everywhere; we won’t let anything stop us: if there’s a river we build a bridge; if there’s an ocean, we construct a boat; if there’s a mountain we drill a tunnel; no oxygen, we got tanks; outer space? Here’s a rocket. We cut lines through forests to civilize wildness, yet a bit of mud and water traps us and we battle for inches.
Just then a monster Bull Moose slowly strides onto the cutline no more than 50 meters away. I grab my rifle, shoulder it, place the crosshairs gently on his heart and squeeze so softly … and stop. He swings that big head toward us, sniffs the air, and walks across the cutline and into the woods
And Pal says … why didn’t you shoot?
He was there, I say, in my sights, and then a thought fired into my brain: how are we gonna get off this cutline. And I hesitated and he moved and did you see him? He stepped onto the cutline and vanished into the bush, moving silently through this icy muck as though it was the easiest thing in the world … and we fight to civilize every inch.
Then I thought: we’re on a cutline. A cut line. Get it?
A line cut into something alive will bleed until the blood clots and the cut heals. And even if it heals, it becomes a scar. And if it doesn’t heal the life slowly seeps out until the being dies.
We are standing on an open wound.
Pal stares at me, for a long long moment. What does that mean, he says? I don’t know what it means, I say. I don’t know. But I think I’m gonna go home and plant a tree.
~ A.G. Boss
A.G. (Allan) Boss is the Entertainment & Drama Producer for CBC Radio in Alberta. For the CBC he recently produced Five Hole: Hockey Erotica with One Yellow Rabbit Theatre and The Rheostatics. He also recently produced and directed the radioplays An Eye For An Eye by Ghost River Theatre and Conversations with my Neighbour’s Pitbull by Clem Martini for CBC’s Sunday Showcase. An Eye For An Eye has been honoured by being chosen to appear in the world festival of radiodrama, Worldplay 2007. Boss’s CBC Ideas program updrafts – a docudrama about recovering from a brain injury – was nominated for a 2004 Peabody Award, a New York Festivals Award, a Gabriel Award and a Prix Italia.