‘An Axe for the Frozen Sea’ by Megan Stielstra

— Andrew Sargus Klein

I’m angry, everyday, and I often don’t know what to do with that anger. I know I’m not alone here, and I know my anger is late. And so I am also angry that this anger should have always been here with me. What’s going on here, in the U.S., only seems like it’s particularly terrible if you haven’t been paying much attention.

Where does anger go? Message boards, pelvic bowls, high blood pressure. And throwing axes—that’s the guiding premise for Megan Stielstra’s essay in The Believer, where she looks long and hard at anger, how it stays in the body and how it finds a way out. She finds a healthy conduit in axe throwing, a satisfyingly violent-but-safe conduit if there ever was one.

I don’t think about the movements anymore. They’re in my bones. A lifetime since I lived in Michigan and I still reach for fireflies. A decade out of the service industry and I can’t stop busing tables. How to turn your toes in a roundhouse kick. How to turn into the slide on an icy road. How to touch yourself; the pressure, the pace. My phone is at the ready when I walk alone at night, I reach for my kid’s hand when we cross the street, I jump back when waves slam furious against the pier near my apartment. My body knows: don’t fuck with Lake Michigan. My body knows: listen and act and hope and rage.

I let go of the axe.

I let go.

There is so much anger right now. That’s a good thing, a good first step. But the second and third steps are finding the right path for that anger.

The Believer