Del Rio, Dog #2
from The Accidental
In the dream the phantoms in the road rushed at my head. Their faces were white blanks, their sleeves were white beams. They assailed from the east, touching my right side and crippling it. I walked with my good leg dragging the half of me slumped on my heart, moving always to the left for I could go no other way. I heard the phantoms open their mouths to speak and tried to look up but the wind that came out of them tore them from their light and shredded them into wind and blinded me and spun me on my left foot like a weathervane, counterclockwise, and with every step into the wind I thought I would fall and crush my right hip beyond healing. Until I saw a college on the road encircled by low stone walls and stone-laid paths, and with a small chapel on the west side where the wind blasted its doors and still they held upright. I thought of prayer, and of rest, and of the silence inside the chapel’s dim light and let the wind press me in that direction. From the center of the quad someone stepped into my path and addressed me graciously by name with a message: Father has something for you if you want to look for him. All the people around us were running and laughing on the grass or gathering to talk while I reeled in the wind and slumped to the right and felt doubled-over in humiliation. In my mind you came to me and held out something round in your hand, a strange melon or a nut. It was so small I could not fathom it existed at all without falling into nothingness. I looked at it and wondered what can this be? It is everything that is made, you said, and I held out my sinister hand to touch it, and you closed it into your palm where it had lasted.&
In the dream the woodstove blew with a thunderclap and sparks swirled into the room and ignited with air, fiery, blue, like an electrical screen illuminating everything terrible around me.&
In the dream I followed the evangelist to the river banks where he held the book over the spray of rapids and spoke quietly to me. I strained to hear him over the roar—a murmur, a hymn—his lips mouthing words while the pages in his hand curled on themselves, animated with damp life, soft as new flesh. And I wished I might thrust my fingers into the book’s middle parts to feel the spine hold and the threads yield and to find something in it of use to me. I knew without being told the man in front of me held a body of knowledge in his hand, a globe or an encyclopedia, but as I stood before him volumes of poetry slid wetly out of it, fell to the rocks, and slipped downstream, flashing their undulating bellies. I knew they were words, pages, nothing more, and yet they were also watery finned things minding the currents and gasping their way to the banks where they crept into the shade of the willows or warmed their legs on the speckled sand. They are singing, I said, I can hear them. Yes and no, I heard the evangelist say. And the last of the book fell away.