Thursday, August 12, 2010

Elephant Words week #8

I've stated many times that you should check out the Elephant Words site where six authors create new pieces of writing - one a day, on a rotating schedule - based upon that week's image (which goes up Sunday, meaning writer #1 has roughly 24 hours to get his or her piece onto the site. Three years in, they have yet to miss a day.) Here's another offering based upon the image below. It's something a little different. I hope you enjoy.


Tonight I Sleep

I wander aimlessly,

The horizon a blank slate,

My steps nothing but random thoughts.

Remembering little of the past days,

All before me is empty,

A return to the day I was born.

Reaching back, I haunt my memory,

Searching. Frustrated.

Longing for understanding.

A gun, “I can see you.”

A loud crack. I hit the floor;

A haze engulfs me.

Voices carry. A sweet susurrus lapping

At the shores of my consciousness.

I hear its murmur but nothing more.

And then – sharp focus –

My chest tightens and that voice

Returns, “I can see you.”

What does it mean?

How could I know?

And my mind drifts with my body.

With nothing to anchor me,

I continue for days

Solace a meaningless word.

Day and Night merge,

My compass without bearings

I give up, go limp, fall.

That’s when I see it:

A break in the clouds

Delicate webs parting slowly.

The mast rises high up ahead,

Announcing its arrival while

The main vessel remains shrouded.

A chill runs my spine,

Shooting across my back

As it raises the hair on my neck.

I can’t explain this feeling.

Is it fear? Anxiety?

Or something else entirely?

I look down now and realize

That I no longer walk –

Must not have for a long time.

The sense of flying overwhelms me,

A revelation that leaves me

Wondering how did I not know?

The rolling mist fades more than moves,

Making way for the scarlet ship

Propelled by nothing, moved by everything.

And again, that voice,

“I can see you.”

But this time it’s familiar.

A mixture, like a good recipe,

Nothing distinct and yet wholly its own.

My son/grandmother/father/mother.

They all talk to me, speak

As they once spoke. And their

Sum total comprises that voice.

As too does the one that shot me.

I hear its faint tone lying in wait

Hoping to disrupt me.

But it will not happen.

I know who I am now.

I know where I am now.

Floating with purpose,

I move to the great vessel

Approaching from beneath.

It is something brand new to me

And something as old as time.

It is as it has always been.

Coming over the side, I spy

The crowd on deck and my heart jumps

As it has not for some time.

My family is waiting for me

As I have waited for them.

It has been lonely all these years.

And he is there as well,

Forgiven in a way I’d not thought possible,

And yet my heart does not darken at his presence.

He took them from me –

All of them –

And I vowed revenge.

But when it was time for that,

My hand faltered

Because I was not that man.

And now understanding floods me,

Threatening to overwhelm that which I once was,

But a comfort to that which I now am.

It has been a long journey,

But tonight I will sleep as

I have not for a long time.

Tonight I will sleep with my family.

Tonight I will sleep with my enemy.

Tonight I will sleep forever.

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