Grasses of Remembrance
By Susan Dale
His soul sighed off; David felt a magnetic stillness of something close at hand; a stillness near to that what has been. Then, in a sudden whoosh, his soul returned and he was within the moment.
He looked around to see nomads and their Saddhu with a blue rope wrapped around his head. The Saddhu, positioned yogi-fashion, sat cross-legged within a ring of stones; the ring placed in the middle of tall grasses. These same grasses were waving David forward. Their emerald blades stretched tall and luminous. He felt them brushing his legs.
He stumbled. “Whoops.”
After righting himself, he hunkered down on his thighs to read the plaque that tripped him, and thus know that he was walking across the burial grounds of Asian ancestors.
Invisible presences rustled through the grasses to breathe into his being. He felt them emerging from within the earth. He saw them taking shape; amorphous, blurry forms with slanted eyes and bird song voices even as the heat was hammering him into the earth from whence came the Asian spirits. Within the bowels of the earth lie a mysterious underworld, and David became a part of it when his steps rustled the grasses of remembrance. Moving beyond the yesterdays that gleamed with life’s contrasting colors; wandering into yesterdays and journeying into time unknown; uncounted.
He looked ahead to see Asian wanderers on donkeys; the donkeys plodding along in thick, sure steps. He watched them, as he walked an irrigation canal gone dry. But when the Asians and their beasts of burden strode over a hill, he lost sight of them. To the right of him ran a body of water resurrected from a canal gone dry. The river, through time, had wandered off to change courses and shapes to become a river, meek and muddy. The river passing from one life into another, as was David. And when he meandered around a hill of stacked boulders, he saw at the mountain’ base, stone feet shaped in caves that resembled toes, rounded in form.
‘Through the decades the river has eaten away the mountain bottom to carve and form these cave-feet.’
Stone roofs topped the caves; the roofs darkened by monsoon rains. David moved closer to the caves and saw, at one of cave’s entrances, lie a pile of bones. Because the Asian ancestors had gained access to his being from the grasses of remembrance, David knew that these were dragon bones.
‘So, this is the cave I choose for my refuge.’
He walked past the dragon-bone entrance to be enclosed within the cave’s musty walls. Back further he went to be within a darker realm in back of the cave. He squinted until his eyes became accustomed to the dark. Sun rays beamed into the cave to highlight the stakes of long-ago warriors; they were propped against a back wall. The Asian ancestors whispered to him of the stakes being hidden in the cave by warriors, who, long ago, used them in their battles against the dragons; the dragons, whose bones were piled at the cave entrance. Shadows of these stakes moved across the caves with the sun’s journey across the heavens until sundown threw off all shadows of day.
David stayed still and quiet while being enclosed within the cave’s walls; reflecting through a time measured by the numbing silence of an awe that took hold of him. Amongst the cave’ shadows floated forms of warriors and fire-breathing dragons.
First, fell a grape twilight, then night descended carrying her basket of pomegranates; the fruit of dreams floating forth warriors and the dragons silhouetted against a back wall of the cave. He sat spellbound with the burning silence of his thoughts, and something living inside of him, even when he was overtaken with sleep. Sleep and the way it dreams___ into a cave within the gaze of a melancholy moon; the moon sitting directly above the cave to highlight the stakes’ shadows and press them tight against the walls. Asian warriors moving in and out amongst their own shadows? But when night ebbed and flowed to its darkest zenith, night overtook shadows of the moon‘s journey, even as warriors were sharpening stakes and hunkering to swirl swords above their heads.
Sleep eclipsed the deaths of David’s platoon. Sleep pushed to the back of beyond, his mother and grandfather‘s horrendous accident. It overshadowed his father’s murder in a bar in Toledo. Sleep was merciful on this lost night in a cave fronted by dragon bones. Sleep erased too the accident that caused the death of his wife and unborn son.
David, lost in the dark of life, was found with the moon’s silver presence shining above him in a fullness of grace that filled the night, and gave him a sleep of the exhausted.
He awakened to the moon rounding a bend in the skies to clear the
way for the sun’s smile of greeting. Walking out from the cave, he again passed the dragon bones. He was leaving behind the stakes and the strange dreams. He entered a landscape being bathed with the rays of a new morning; dawn widening into sunrise.
He wondered- ‘what is real? The dreams? My yesterdays? Those who wandered back into the present?’
Not knowing but carrying all these yesterdays, regardless, he journeyed onwards. With him, ancestors’ grasses and the dreams of warriors, his yesterdays; the ancestors, and all rounding into the circle of life.
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Susan has poems and fiction on Eastown Fiction, Tryst 3, Word Salad, Pens On Fire, and Yesteryear Fiction. In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan.
Labels: Susan Dale