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Copyright 2005 Peder Hill, Dreaming Underwater. All rights reserved.


Meeting Owen McCabe

I know you. I do. You sang upon the wind, a whisper, your voice a soft echo on the forest shadows. I remember. You sprang across the thicket, your dark reflective eyes darting with their thousand monocles aglow. You must remember too. For our eyes met. I saw them. Your dizzying line swaying and singing as you moved through the heavy air. The faint whirl of your wings a green note added to the noises that fell on us from the forestís edge. The sounds of daydreams and hunger, and of death. Yes, I fear them too.

The figure sits crouched in the ankle high grass, the rivulets from the dry stream bedís banks nearly reaching his right foot. He slowly turns toward the bordering woods, tilts his head up and stares over the thicket of short scraggled bushes and into the forest beyond. Light filters through its canopy in soft green patches. His reddish blond hair is disheveled, it partially hides a serrated field of scars that wind like the furrows of an old plow down his right cheek. From afar the scars look almost like the claw prints of a wandering bird, or a childís drawing of a leafless tree.

The wet smells of the burrowing mosses and rotting leaves come down to him from the wood. And he feels the faint whiff of the pine glade that holds the rocky soil on the mountainís top, its scent riding down the hollow tunnel of the creek bed and onto the meadow that interrupts groves of trees on the east side of town.

He slowly lifts his hand from among the patches of dried crab grass, his fingers shake slightly with delicate concern.

The small grasshopper rides his cramped palm, its trestle-banded legs awry, tiny mandibles moving as its head shifts from side to side, kidney-shaped eyes with their brown glow.

I know you.

The boy lifts his hand on the hot air and away it flies, the faint whir of its tiny beating wings following it as if wavers across the pale dry stretch of the meadow. He smiles as it flies away, his ears following as its flicker fades below the sounds of the glade.

The wind suddenly gusts through the bows and along the forest floor and he jerks his head back to pull in the woodís creaking and smells. Pulls his hair over his right ear to get a better view. With arms rigid at his sides, eyes scanning, his feet slowly feel their backwards way.

He navigates back a while, then turns, steers a route left that of the grasshopper. He can still smell the pines as he reaches the hillís crest and the college comes into view. He looks back a last time to the forest, then back down the hill.

He smells something else now, an electric smell, and sees the approaching stormís dark horizon clinging to the sky beyond the green of the college grounds. From a distance a subtle yellowing of the schoolís features is its only sign of wear. The boy turns right and along a trail pressed in the grass across the hilltop begins a staggering gallop toward home.