John James

Animals of the Field Attend His Dreams

 

 

With each clock tick I slip into a tract of land unadultered

by my mind’s bleak thought—unaffected by engines,

in another time and place, where fleece on white fleece

 

sheep graze with glazed eyes. And rolling in the evening,

careening in the night, the things of my apartment press

their heft on either side. So when I wake to find me

 

lying in the grass, breathing in the buds of asters bent

sidelong about the stem, I feel the weight of objects loose

its grip about my neck, I hear the sound of hoofprints tap

 

some strain upon the stone. I stand to see a spotted fawn,

his knees ashake, nestle up against his mother in the field.

A rabbit chews the cloverleaves that sprout along the stream.

 

Back in my apartment, unearthed of my inertia, I wake

to mall court merchandise scattered on the floor—

and here I let my thought consume the objects as it will,

 

things on which my mind projects the need for one thing

more. The clock ticks and I slip once again into the field,

where amorous flocks of vultures circle now above my head.

 

The fawn’s asleep; the sheep are standing still. I locate

the rabbit huddled motionless by the water. In my room

I touch the objects covering the carpet and hold them

 

like a child up close against my face. Again the clock ticks,

again I slip into the field, and now the birds of prey

have scattered in the wind. Flash back to my apartment

 

I pack the things in bags—new clothes with their receipts

tucked safely in the pocket. But when I wake to find me

standing in the field, taking in the fleece of sheep just

 

waiting to be sheared, I wander through an open meadow

and down a forked path, at the base of which the fawn lies

sleeping with his mother. I extend a hand, I lift the fawn up

 

from the dirt. I close my eyes and breathe in his bright scent.

And then I set his feet back down upon the stone. His flesh

stiffens, his warmth departs. The sheep in my periphery

 

atrophy. I hear the sound of hoofprints, yes, but hollow,

his joints congealed, eyes glossed over with the sudden

glaze of marble. I listen for the clock to tick me back into

 

my room where the glow from my computer casts its blue

across the sheets. Instead the doe shifts, there is no tick.

I press upon the blades of grass that bend beneath my feet.

 

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