Heat clamps the top of the willow beyond my window. It rarely dances these days, its mornings as still and weighted in the locusts’ singing chants as I in the calling summer voices of memory – bailing hay in the early mornings – itch and heat singing in my eyebrow’s mist, sweat running scratches down my arms. Who knew, through a youth of tractor and truck and livestock accidents, that I would ever be this old – too old for hauling hay, for tossing ninety pound bales above my head onto a stacked trailer. That, too, passed although I never believed it would.
We slept outside under the stars those oppressive summer nights, escaping our stifling upstairs bedrooms in the farmhouse to battle the attacks of mosquitoes. The sky lay so close; we stretched up our hands, stars just out of reach between open fingers. I learned to wonder at immensity, to watch the trail of a falling star…where did it fall to?… to track the passage of planets and constellations as the night rolled our sleeping mats into morning.
I knew the coming and going of the moon’s passage in my body. Now I look at the calendar to know. I knew to watch the clouds’ tumbling pile at the horizon; now I watch the weather channel in a city life circumscribed by houses and trees.
At the bottom of the draw, close to the woods, I’d escape the blasting heat from the tractor’s exhaust and walk into the shade, kneel at the spring to drink, an elfin sprite let loose, the water cold and fresh, spouting from a pipe pushed into the bank’s cleft by a hand I didn’t know, to splash my face, feel the mossy stones cool beneath my hand. Roll on Jordan, roll on.
There was no way to predict or know what I would become, only my restless curiosity pointing.