28 June 2017

The Fire Behind

Seeker knelt at the edge of the prairie, retching his guts out with volcanic intensity. Slow poison and spiritual exhaustion had taken their toll. His arms trembling with the violence of the possessed, sheer force of will kept his head from dipping forward into the foulness polluting the ground. Behind him, roiling smoke besmirched the horizon of the sea of grass that once held his heart. Seeker could feel the heat even at the miles he had put between he and it. He spat. Pain radiated from the stone behind his breastbone.

The heaves subsided. Seeker rocked back on his haunches with hands on his hips. Hot, it was under that furnace sun. He sucked in grateful lungfuls as a cooling breeze sprang up. He thought maybe the wind spirits still held affection for him if they deigned to grant such a mercy. There had been precious little of that in the many moons of running from a hole that had opened in the sea.

Ticking in the grass. Cricket choruses bidding him farewell, or perhaps composing a dirge. Seeker did not know. The high keening of a red-tailed hawk broke the symphony of crickets. Crusty eyes opened and he could see the hawk circling a short distance away. Towards the east a sprinkling of trees congealed into a dusty forest crowding the terrain that stretched out before him. Green. The color made his heart twitch, memories of who he once was crowding to the fore of a kaleidoscopic hallucination that tumbled like the ocean he remembered lay far beyond those trees.

Seeker made to go, gathering up a sweat-stained hat, a battered backpack, and a heavy walking stick burnished by months of use, sweat, and tears. The backpack bowed his back under its weight. The hat he settled down over his filthy brow. His trembling hands gripped the stick tightly as he willed motion into legs that ached like the throb of an earthquake.

Sunlight like molten copper beat down on Seeker's neck. He resigned himself to the burn, it was nothing new when he compared it to the tannings of his youth. A few hundred steps onward a raspy mewling caught his ear. "The cat!" he muttered to himself. He stopped to unload the pack. Sitting on top of some rags and an iron pot was a small bobcat. Seeker had found him in the grass by a stream crossed miles ago. The mother was nowhere in sight. Little ribs poking through a matted robe of fur had given him pause. Even through the despair and fatigue, Seeker felt the gravity of the feline.

Small paws grasped at his finger. A raspy little tongue licked at the tips. Seeker scratched the animal behind its ears, then rested it on his left forearm as he stood to go. He spat again to rid his mouth of the bile and spite. He looked back one last time. The horizon writhed and curled, the smoke a giant serpent in his garden of Eden. It was closer than he realized. He turned away from the setting sun and the heat. The sea of grass would hold him no longer. There was walking, nothing more under a gargantuan sky to keep him moving towards the unseen ocean he hoped would buoy his sinking heart.

1 comment:

"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...