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A Hundred Gourds 3:4 September 2014

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Steven Carter - USA


Other voices, other—


That year winter came in like a pride of lions and hung around into early spring.

In Northern California the Eel, American, Napa, and Sacramento rivers flooded; there was high water in some areas surrounding the group foster home where I lived.

I remember trees being thrashed by the wind like rag dolls shaken by a dog.

And I loved it—loved the sound of wind in the trees and rain lashing my window in the dorm. —So much so that one sleepless night I decided to sneak out. Bundling up as best I could, I crawled through the window onto the walkway in front of the dorm, welcomed by the open arms of darkness and cold.

Where have you been, Steven? We’ve been expecting you.

Hunching a yellow raincoat around my shoulders, I explored the grounds of Twelve-acres, so different at night. I walked to the big front gate, pushed it open—it was never locked—turned and looked upward where the wooden sign TWELVE-ACRES used to be (I’d smashed it with a rock the week before).

Crossing fields of oak and pine trees and flowers curled up for the night, I was acutely aware of the presence of mountains not far away, though I couldn’t see them. I knew these fields like the back of my hand, even in the dark, so there was no danger of getting lost.

Why not keep walking to the edge of the world? What might I encounter along the way? —Perhaps the mountain lion I dreamt about the night before.

It’s about time, kid, he hisses at me. . .

I picked up a small stone and tossed it upward into the dark, catching it once, twice, three times before it disappeared in the wet grass.

The moon broke through a bank of clouds, illuminating the trees around me; the rain thinned, the wind died, and I plopped down under a live-oak to rest.

Then, as the sky turned gray and I heard the chug-chug of a garbage truck on Pine Lane, I made my way back to the home—disgruntled since there was never any danger of getting lost.

Pinks of dawn
            Catching the light
                        A red-tailed hawk


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