Posted on: January 9, 2014
“Do cows dream?”
Yes, of course, and if this is the last question you ask of me, then at least it’s a good one. If this is the last question you ask of me, then I reckon I’ll elucidate. When you grow old like I’ve grown old I hope that you remember to answer the questions of the young. How are we supposed to learn if we cannot teach?
Nevermind. For a smile I’ll tell you a story, a story of my darling, and how she made it to the sun.
“Tell me the story, please. The story of your darling.”
See us walking those dew-crusted prairies in the morning, before the sun comes up. In that darkness you feel it in the air, and you know that this is God’s country. It ain’t no man and it ain’t no being but Mother Nature and Her generosity, shining down like summertime heat in squirrely waves of grace so powerful they distort your vision. Say you walk out with me, out to the prairie, and we stand there while the sun comes up and you tell me that you love me. I know love. I might be dumb, but I know love.
My darling? She was more beautiful than the rest of us had any right to be. She was like the moment it stops raining on a summer afternoon. She was sultry and smiling and her warmth sunk into you, not around you, like a fire will dive past the skin and right into the marrow of your bones. She would inhabit those she loved like a specter and she was with me until the end.
“Like when sister dresses in Mama’s clothes?”
I suppose. But don’t interrupt, dear boy. The sun rose and set on her last day, and when it raised again it was not the same. It had changed and she was a part of it. I can close my eyes and she shines down on me now.
“How did she make it to the sun? Was there a ship?”
No, child, there was no ship. And what did I say about interrupting?
Now don’t look to the ground, young man, don’t hug to your teddy. Not even Teddy can help you now. One day when you’re older you’ll know what it means to look a thing in the eyes. To peer into that darkness like you’re looking down a well into their soul.
“Like Ol’ Sally’s well, out in the east pasture?”
No, that well is shallow.
“Member’ when sister fell down in Ol’ Sally’s well and Papa…”
Child, please. If you don’t want to hear about my darling, maybe you’ll hear of my other dreams? I suppose you can hear of the time I killed a man.
Well, well. I take it them saucer eyes mean I have your attention, young man.
It was during a storm, the likes of which I will not see again. Your Daddy and his brothers, they were caught in it, out there on the plain trying to keep us stitched together like a moving, breathing puzzle, shouting and cursing to the heavens above, lost in that darkness. You couldn’t see nothing. Couldn’t see the ground below your feet. You’d get adjusted to the dark and the sky would split open with light and scare it out of you, scare you running like mad. He was on a horse, I remember that. He was young, still had bangs, blonde bangs that swept low across his face, underneath the brim of his brown cowboy hat. The hat was catching rain like a basket, dripping off the sides and down into the eyes. Looked like a fountain overflowing. Then the light broke the sky and spooked me, spooked us all, and he went down off that horse at just the right time. I couldn’t stop.
“What happened then?”
Oh, dear boy, that is not a story I have the strength to tell anymore. Just know that I see his face, in my dreams. But not all faces in dreams are bad. In your life I hope you see beautiful, smiling faces and I hope some of them make it to your dreams, as my darling nightly makes it to mine.
“And what do I do when the nightmares come?”
Know that we all have nightmares, and breathe deep when you wake. Take your eyes to your hands and tell them to move. Then you will know you are dreaming no longer.
“You have nightmares, too?”
All living things have nightmares, and I am like all others. I have nightmares. I have dreamt of a cool night, lit by the moon and the stars, a night that I will see my breath as I run across the prairie, my home, but I will be caught by what’s chasing me as we are all caught by death in the end. And now my time has come and this is why I speak to you, this is why I answer your questions. Because tomorrow I will be the stars and tomorrow will be a great day of jubilation. I will run through the streets of heaven with my darling and things will be good. But know that I will miss you child, and the man that you will become.
“Where will you go?”
Don’t mine for them sorts now; you are too young to dig. Rest in the sun and dream while you sleep and know that I’ll be looking down on you.
“And sister? And Mama? And Papa?”
If you wish. But it’s time for you to go now. Take Teddy. Take him with you.
“But where? Where are you going?”
To the stars, dear boy. See, my darling? Where the darkness meets the horizon? She waits.
Written by: Logan Theissen
Photograph by: Emily Blincoe
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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