Stampeded : a story with pictures
I nearly died here, in my backyard, just hours before the Friendsgiving potluck party I was hosting. My neighbor uses our land for his cattle, you see, and Tyler and I wanted to bring our friends back to the river beyond the tree line. We were sure it would be frozen like last year, thick slabs of ice breaking off in the current. We wanted to hear the sound shattering ice makes skidding across itself. So we ducked under the electric fence and began passing through the snow ridden field, a herd of cattle nestled amongst themselves a few hundred feet away. It was beautiful, this virgin snow all around, veiny branches bowing under its weight. Even though, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. They stared us down, like some sort of thuggish gang angry with strangers passing through their territory. I could see their warm breath billowing from their flared nostrils, their eyes cutting at us. “I’m scared, you guys,” I said, watching them scrutinize us under a hard glare. One stamped its back leg, infuriated with us passing too close to its brood. “You only have to worry if there are bulls,” Tyler said marching onwards toward the river. I was almost stumbling through the deep snow, my head cocked to the right hoping they would stay put, “There are bulls.” The biggest, darkest one took a few steps forward, his massive body silhouetted against the blinding landscape. I could see two others following behind, slowly at first. They started on a curious gallop, their eyes fixed, testing us. Faster they came, charging now, straight on. We all watched, the panic sinking deeply into our chests. We ran faster than ever before through the thick blanket beneath. I didn’t look back. I thought that if I didn’t, he maybe wouldn’t be there, this 1600 pound enormity grasping at our heels. We ran faster, sliding on our bellies under the thin electric wiring. There, on the other side of the fence I turned to meet its gaze, but saw Tyler’s back instead. They stared at each other, a few paces between them; I never thought Tyler looked so small, so helpless. My little heart beat boldly, and I thought it might explode under all this angst. I screamed at him to run, that this wasn’t the time to be macho, and when the bull sprang towards him he finally did.
I didn’t know if they were actually entertained after something so devastating, or trying to convince themselves to be. I kept an eye over my shoulder the whole time, knowing the bulls weren’t far, were probably still angry with us, delicate cords the only thing keeping us apart. And now, every time I look at my backyard, I see them dotting the field, watching us still.
It’s all whimsy under the broken sky:
Age-stroked trunks with secret drawers
Holding keys carved of bone
And plum pits.
Waterfalls of silent screams
Crash against feathered ponies.
Dream creatures carry you off
To the mountain tops.
Whispering in gold
We fly in a quiet dance
Across the shimmering mandarin moon
Tucked neatly between the shards
In the broken sky.
I once drifted to the moon
To tiptoe on the waves.
I buried your invitation under the desert palms,
But you refused to dig.
The sky dripped into the sea that night.
I once extended my hand
And a willow’s tears
Seeped into my skin.
You laughed when I told you
And continued your strides across my belly.
My shadow has stretched beyond the hills
And stands alone
On the purple horizon
Leaning against the sun.
It waits for you
To gallop on its back
To the place that has been forgotten.
Seat in the corner. Lowering his head with his body, his eyes searching the room from under his brow, the cushion let out a sigh with his weight. His right ankle found its way, as it always does, to his left knee, dangling foot drawing circles in the stale air. Then it stopped. It was difficult to adjust his gaze with such a beautiful creature sitting across from him. Her honeycomb curls reminded him of Lacey’s, and the way they tickled his collarbone at night. She looked up. Clearing his throat, he hid his cuticles in his palms. Some were cracked with dried blood, others smudged black from last night’s concrete bed.
Why did they drop us here?
Sop up the pastel drippings of the sky
In wonder of a shadow’s eternal reconstruction.
Stretch. Now shrink! Now fly away
To dance on the sun.
You shouldn’t have done that,
Thinking you were going to be fine with just
Skipping stones and reading love into everything that moves
Or stands stationary. I sent you a cue.
Sun is god with immense muscle, delicate and overcast.
Shadows quiver in its opulent stories.
They shrivel in the closed jar.
Drink it down slow and thick like orchestral moods,
It journeys to your unforgiving pit. Incessantly begging.
Beyond these walls their eyelids are sewn with superficial threads to their brows.
They do not look in your direction.
And you, too.
Float down on the gliding thought of a willow.
My gums are bleeding through my rhythm
And I’m not sure how it drips so slowly
Since my heart flutters faster than a devoted mouth measures song.
Eyes wide. Take it all in, but don’t stare.
Cupped in your palm, smushed into the emotion of a morsel lost.
Forgotten spine – undulate on your furry trek towards the world.
You worry too much about the splinters in your heels.
But I think they are beautifully bruising.
I sprinkled it on the plate for you. Did you like it?
Of course you did. Each breath has an aroma of luscious threat.
The glassware is stocked and you are on your way,
Always belaboring your limbs.
Stop and embrace the delicious winds
On your shoulders.