How vivid was this confidence that brought you up this mountain. So high we stand together, faces cradled in the wind. Fearless hope keeps your wondrous eyes from peeking. Vaulted more by a simple press of tiptoes from the edge. A giant valley of doubt lays crumpled far below us. We come from the bottom. Baptized in her river. Time-and-again our squishy boots have squeaked their way home. For years the spine rested in the shape of a question. Now with nerves untwisted, we form a proud exclamation. Here, drink love's water, from my roots to your branches. Under our tree, we cast this blanket. Nibbling on the fruit of our dreams. Together, up here, among the raptors, where the air feels its purpose.
Last night my head leaped from a car window. The wind inflated my cheeks like gills on a fish. My eyeballs turned sticky from the chill in the air. My belly fizzed a romantic bubbly. We were two people, traveling just below the canopy of southern Appalachia. I was already home. Squinting at the thought of us maybe in the distance. Here, carriaged by four cylinders, secretly wishing we would drive forever.
Events start and stop. Pleasure spreads ripples through our memories. Simon and Garfunkel lend us their tune. The best parts are when you are singing. The harmony of all this double-bounces my heart right out of my mouth. My lips erupt their precious secret, "let's keep falling higher and higher. Life's balloon gave me this one string. And the levity of you pulls my whole world up, up and away."
Yesterday, the clouds were crashing. A twisted tree pointed to the fray, so proud of its discovery. The heaven's mumbled as what was once fluffy fell to its knees. Swords of thunder ripped through the sky like rocks through rice paper. The ground did not peep; so brave was its position, beneath an armor of history so thick and pure. A rabbit finds shelter as his nose twitches the news. Birds ruffle patiently behind eyes that seem to yawn. Forming a chorus of "this too shall pass", we listen for the sun together.
This morning i kissed a tulip. We had been flirting for days. Its face still buried deep in those green cheeks. Above me woodpeckers demanded a bounty as distant dove's cooed their peace. Teenage fraziers barely shoulder high stood noble and guarded. Under their tall furry hats I tried to make them giggle but they would not budge. I wagged a finger at them saying "one day". I decided to practice my saunter. At the top of the hill I cast the sun's first shadow. I was honored. My posse: two dogs and a dwindling cat who knew we would wait. Our morning rounds - life's coffee.
Hey Life, Do you hear that stomping? My giant was asleep for so many years you forgot his potential. I urge you to make preparations. He is coming for you. One thing is certain. He is very hungry.
Life, i take from you this one favor. When you cut me, make it deep and to the bone. For this blood drips a royal standard. It flaps high in the wind above drums deep and pounding. My will is an army desperate to plunder. Let your strongest king push me off this mountain. Watch my desire claw its ugly way back to the top.
Life, let your sun burn my face as they lounge under umbrellas. Watch me squirm and sweat as I swing my machete through your thickest jungle. I will find your sacred temple through pain and laughter. My pendulum swings far and heavy as it swaths through your world. And when you send death to fetch me, may it gulp at the thought of taking me down.
In this skin i feel my music. In this skin i know my face. It's not a canary caressing a sonnet. But more like a crow beneath fog's sweaty cape. My crackling caw is gruff on arrival. Grasping at branches long since forgotten, and shake loose my story from the bottom of the gullet. I sound the call of life with my throat to heaven gaping. Loud, gruff, stubbly, and obtuse. This is my song, i am its valley. But even the thorn makes a lasting impression. And what is one's life but its effect on others? My body is a tiny pebble, and this life a ripple through the fabric of forever.
It was a chubby little church on the side of some forgotten state route in Tennessee. Resting behind a chipped fence with no gate. Its only companion was a saddled plastic caterpillar teetering on a rusted coiled spring. The bricks were overrun with kudzu growing out of all kinds of places. The plain glass windows finally qualified as stained. Blessed only by the occasional rodent, this forgotten temple remained empty on Sunday. Inside, the pipe organ's ghost played a eulogy for its congregation. On the front steps, once home to a fruitful wedding rested the same old broken bottle of Southern Comfort.
It remembered that day. The giant car came racing down the road and pulled over suddenly. The building's hopes were rekindled despite it being a Tuesday. The steeple rose to attention with excitement. Finally, it had some visitors seeking sanctuary. The giant passenger door opened with a loud creak. A mustard haired lady leaned out of the car and began to vomit in the gravel. The church listened as she hacked her confession from the far side of the car. The driver never looked over as he fiddled with the radio. As he sped off he threw the now empty bottle. It was his donation.
I pressed my knuckles deep into my eye sockets and turned my wrists again-and-again. I was trying to scratch my brain. To touch the parts that caused this awful dream. I didn't know i had it in me. Moments ago I was in a forest laughing. We were playing on a carpet of moss as green as emeralds. Trees so tall the stars knew their name. Bark so moist it conformed to your fingers. We were hunting as the sun was coming down from its high throne. A light fog lingered inches from the ground. Our prey was the chestnut and we gathered them by the armload. Samantha was our basket and she was laughing so hard she could barely stand. An endless barrage of children were emptying their cache into her long dress. Underneath the hemp, her arms had formed a giant basket. She was chock full and giggling. Someone had called her a kangaroo and she started hopping. Every jump, her giant cache would remain frozen in time and space before falling back down inside her. The sound was intoxicating. If only I would had woken.
An electric charge filled the forest as the fog instantly turned to steam. Ears and eyes rose in terror as everyone in our party scattered. I remained, frozen by the spectacle, and watched it all happen. Dark tall figures were appearing out of thin air. One materialized in front of me. He was nine feet tall without a neck. His chest grew a giant stub of a head. Every feature was dark and muted. His arms barely left his body. His wide body blocked out the sun completely. I could only guess he had two legs. He lifted me by the neck effortlessly. My limbs dangling like a dead rabbit. He kept my eyes pointing into the blackness that was his face. His actions were long and deliberate as if his intentions were purely to elicit a reaction.
He revealed a device akin to a large electric razor. At each side of the instrument were two pincers that looked like a giant beetle's mouth with spark plugs. Shoulder-length apart, he held the device inches from my chest and made some adjustments. The pincers spread wider as if finding their mark. He gazed at me one last time before i heard the whir and hum. Two bright blue electric bolts burrowed into my chest just below my shoulders. I felt the bolts under my skin cook my blood. I could no longer move my lungs. My muscles did not respond. My captor seemed to perk up a bit at my realization. He started turning dials as the machine contracted my muscles and forced me to expel my lungs. My chest sank deeper and deeper as I felt the oxygen push from my body. My ribs could feel the bending pain as the suction compacted my chest. He turned the dial again and my lungs instantly filled as my mouth and nose felt the gush of air. I could taste him on my tongue. He left the air in my lungs for a while as my dangling feet pleaded for mercy. My heart stumbled at every erratic breath. He was quite skilled with the device. In-and-out he did this. He watched my expressions gasping for air again-and-again.
His intentions were clear. He was absorbing my fear. He too was here in the forest hunting. As terror dripped from my eyes, he was ingesting my prana like sap from a tree. He could tell my vessel was empty. With his belly full I watched him adjust some dials. I realized he was going to let me go. I was overcome by a startling feeling of familiarity. This had happened before. Just then the pincers shot another bolt into my chest. I was breathing on my own. I noticed another plug rise from the machine. This was bigger and came from the center. He raised the device to my forehead as he adjusted some dials. It made perfect sense. He was going to erase the memory of what had just happened. His next harvest would yield the same bounty of fear. I heard the buzzing hum again...
I remember the day his steady vagueness finally became clear. It took decades for the fog's consistency to finally break through my thick stubborn bone. There was no center. I had moored myself to an empty rowboat. My captain was a decorated scarecrow. How many years had i foolishly stood at attention waiting for a returned salute. Life had afforded me several opportunities to laugh in the mirror. This chuckle rose slower than most. I imagine my station in life was ordained for a specific purpose. I was hand placed in my home for a reason. Was not life's purpose the reason's discovery.
The court of public opinion had finally left the building. Minivans were packed full and heading home. Trashcans waved goodbye, jammed full like vases with fresh daisies. The snow was dumping as I shut the theater doors. There she was, my sweet solitude. My toes breathe as I see her again. She smirks from the back row as if she had been here this whole time. I know she missed this fiasco, but she knows what I go through during the season. When the madness of the crowd filled my room. This bog of mumbles. Obligation's projector kept ticking and clicking. Pulsing beams broadcasting through stank smoke. Silence slumped in the corner. He was slowly choking. Sanity's chips fell from the ceiling. But that madness is all gone now. Nothing left but sticky popcorn crunching underfoot. I smiled back at her as we rekindle our quiet candle. I imagined her on the roof this whole time, tickling the stars with her eyes. She was always so good at being timeless. Robotic footsteps broke through our moment as I turned back towards the stage. Mr Guilt stopped center-stage beneath his brown derby. He stood straight and proud with his arms bear-hugging a pile of costumes. A small metal strong box dangled from his pinky like some lazy monkey. Clearing his throat, he announced, "I think we are done here." You could tell he was satisfied, and so were we.