Stepped out on the porch, and into Orion’s belt, long before dawn. I was on my way to do chores, only I ran into these stars, my nose burning, with his rich, redolent stink. He stood, legs spread, like I’ve seen my brother stand, defiant, A carcass flopped by his side. “Excuse me,” I said as I stepped down to walk the yard to the horses and lights in the barn. The sun hadn’t even shown up yet. But he kept stepping in my way. But I don’t have time. I have horses to feed, work to get ready for.
It was a relief to stop at the threshold of the barn, pause and tell my horses, “Ready, ready. I’m going to turn on the lights.” I step into the warm light, the barn, the wood and cobwebs, the chickens roosting on Tessie’s stall between me and the sky. But the mares blink their eyes hard. The brightness burns their eyes. I pick up my currycomb and hoof pick and walk in Tessie’s stall. She drops her head to the floor, eyes straight ahead asking for grain. Morgen watches from across the barn, taking everything in. Tessie’s coat is soft as angora as I brush off the shavings from the night. I swipe under her belly and she lays her ears back. I see that I have to put her back on my beet pulp gruel, a concoction that seems to sooth their stomachs. Morgen’s upper lip hooks in anticipation of the pellets I give to thank her for moving lightly to the side, her body lovely as it arches away from just a touch.
I open the big barn doors and turn them out, but they turn to come back in, looking for hay. I stuff their hay bags, while Bruce picks out the stalls. Orion is nowhere to be found, but the sun shoulders the horizon, liquid fire that makes me blink.
Around midnight, I stepped down the road, Orion throwing his thigh over the horizon. Jets swarmed around O’Hare. I was trying to ease out of the grief that has settled over me as the sun as gone south and giving the dogs one last break before bed. Something about reading my novel for the first time has opened up my sorrows. All right I’ll climb onto your shoulder. He stooped down, so I straddled his neck. He lifted me up, holding my ankles, his hands warm. I rode into the sky. It didn’t take but twenty feet before I screamed I wanted down, please put me down, but when you mess with mortals turned into stars you are shit out of luck. So up we went, the wind blowing past my ears, air not too easy to breathe.
Eternity stretched out as far as the farthest, oldest galaxy weighs on me as hard as dirt piled over a box. But I’m told eternity has already started, that the Reign of God is here, now, and that it might be good to practice those habits Jesus talks about when he talks about parties. Like saying yes to the invitation for one thing and wearing the right clothes for another. I think of the sayings, “put on Jesus,” like a beautiful white linen suit. I don’t have to wear the old behaviors rooted in fear. I can come dressed in love and joy and patience and generosity because his stories about parties seem to come with stories about giving away our stuff and forgiveness.
After all rain falls on all kinds of people’s land, drawing plants and wealth right out of the ground. At the party, I think I will be seated with my enemies, so I’d better work on that forgiveness thing, here, now.
Orion hoisted me as far as something you’d see on Google Earth when the dogs stopped to sniff a coyote trail. He leaned over gently, set me back on the road. The terror still flickers like heat lightning threads a thunder cloud.
I was mixing feed when Bruce tapped my shoulder, called me outside to look at the sunset, magenta lining shallow cloud bellies. The sun gone by now from a day so quiet you could hear the corn rattling into the combine a good mile away.
How about you, when has the world touched you with its presence?
If you’d like to read more of my writing The River Caught Sunlight is available on sale for $1.99 in the following editions: Nook, Kindle, ibook through the month of November. The print version is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books A Million.
This is linked over at Kelli Woodford’s Unforced Rhythms.