3 |Two Hearts
The souse of the rain splashed a cape of water upon the bramble of bricks aligning the bedroom dormer, warm, friendly, enduing of what we may have missed in hours overnight. He was present; as it says, as nature has a grand sense of humor, new was the rain, and it was going to stay, today, clearly, as it was, at a slight opening of the window sill. He was awake now, as slack as the roofing, and the water pouring over the fascia to the ranch greening weeds, the hallow wave of the limbs of the trees, rousing of the hairs of his neck. He planted one foot at a time on the shag carpet in the bedroom; and glimpsed, at dawn, over a shoulder at a woman. Mariya was still buried in the pillows, well beneath a comforter, managing to face the window without any clamor. He didn’t touch her. He could instead mingle, and breathe deeply, and exhale, and sense, in his chest, while sitting squarely at the edge of the bed, the pulse of two hearts. He spread his arms in wonder, put the flat of his hands on his knees: May it stay this way? He would answer, “Of course,” and sometimes “definitely,” – and the question, however great it was, and it was grave, in his days, still very grave, was silly. He would grin broadly then, and inhale a sog of the air from the mesa.
Awakening, it was possible to miss in the parting shadows the forge of a narrow, and angular shape, in the pane of the window; deep, deep brown, it was, with a wide white stripe; up close it was black, but just in rangeful spots; and to miss the solemn, meaningful stare, a sleek nose in the window, which may have seemed hilarious; but life has stuff, and the easiest to neglect is the most towering. This was Midnight, the Lusitano, and this was a dutiful visit. The sleek nose of the horse was peering at him in the rain, in the window, at dawn. “He sure has a personality,” the neighbors would say, admiring Midnight; part of it was the horse’s austerity, and much his steely charge.
He weighted his body against the side of the mattress, expecting less balance, and knowingly used a flat of his palm to rise, and then slung his arms behind him, and above his head, to achieve a soaring, and ponderous yawn. Midnight was getting wet, he thought. He made the odd point of noting the crown molding over the closed door of the bedroom every day. Their son’s room was a step away from the threshold: He had suffered the misfortune of the discharge of a rifle cartridge, which pierced his heart not a yard from a ship’s ramp late in nineteen forty-four. They had chugged through the sea of Japan with thousands of minions in a Higgins swamp craft, deployed by the Americans to attack the southern isles. He smiled at the window, and then the steadfast Lusitano, and saw the horse’s nose nod; yes, Midnight could see him, in his pajamas. It was time.
Later in the day, at lunch, Ernie, a spirited man, would ask him, perhaps a bit facetiously, “You don’t want to go, do you?”
He was grateful for the gift, the proverbial “skinny,” and showed it in his manner. He marveled even more about Ardi, thinking about it, about the lenity of his gig in these stars, about the skiff, quieted, addled, by the skiff’s nonsensical glide, and content, even optimistic, about the every port-of-call.
“No,” he replied, therefore. “No.”
“No, not at all.”
In the time of these days, in the mesa, in the willowed springs or winsome fall, at times the air did not have to be stolen or concealed, flawless, gilt edges of nature could be found freshets of a valley blooming of puzzle grass, or the mesa daisies; resting below, in the usual surrounds, the easy peace of ponds and fireflies, it was at such times, after a few moments of it, when, uneasily, Midnight, the horse, would nudge him gently about Reese. He would always answer, “Uh-huh.”
Mariya had given the young, Andalusian “centaur” the name, Reese, because the colt’s color was brown as a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup. She said “Reese!”, and so dubbed, the colt dipped his nose and reared, and shuffled away to the pen, and she swore a grin tapered his face. It had been almost a century. He was tempered by the damp, and rain-kept air. His boots were firmed essentially in the stirrups of Midnight’s saddle; a notion passed, – he had not ridden Midnight in some time, – and the notion was the fear the dark, mahogany stallion might suddenly decide to forget him, in abandon for the mission; and, even if dragged behind this quest, there are promises, promises made between a man, and a horse.
This was certainly a promise to Midnight. He grimaced about the chore; better to have it done; that was all. But he knew only the Holy Spirit might have the easy mien to find Reese, the colt, beyond the mesa, that’s all. It was clear to Midnight, clear enough; there would be no time for perusing, or peonies, or fruit trees; just the halting descent of the mesa, and a wide-eyed stir of the plains. It had been a century.
Life with a horse is a workaday matter. His grandfather roamed the valley of the mesa in a drawn carriage, often in the snow, and liked to remark how roaming had much more to do with a horse. Yes, yes roaming. He, and Midnight had returned from a day “at play in the fields of the Lord” to this Spanish bungalow, His wife, Mariya, heard an awful, ironic scowl, and she knew one of two things were true: their dusty hours above, and within the plains of the mesa in the nineteen-aughts had frightfully changed, – or it was a long story; viewing the wants, and warrants of man, and horse, in the light of their front yard, Mariya decided the latter was true. The long story concerned Reese, the young stallion. He always liked to meander in the shallow forests in shade of the mesa; it was a fine, and decent gallop beyond the harsh, dry stages of mesa clay and marble, and it was easy to avoid the annoying pebbles in the range above the plateau; to bask in the magnificent beauty, to view the man-made carriage bridge in a canopy of the trees spanning a modest pond to the other side; there were no trees directly on the mesa, and the insects were rife in a siesta of the suns. They found Reese where it was cooler any day, in early evening, or before nightfall, when it was cooler, when temperatures fell at the mesa at once some forty degrees. There were no creatures unaware of it; the lack of danger was uneasy to shake. He gasped in the cold air, estimating the mesa, and chuckled about at Ernie’s directions, feeling reckless just the same: a fair ways past Coda, okay; “just go left, and up the stairs.” Stairs; what stairs? The memory of it still gripped, and pulsed his jugular veins, working a way from his heart. Midnight, saddled, with a straight, cold, and sober gaze, stepped gallantly towards him. It was time.
An idyll is not always idyllic. It is a preamble for the second nature of ranchers, especially in the early parts of the century, and also the latter parts. The life was fair, and hard, and nobody could expect to be omniscient, or timeless. A rancher would live, and die, young, or old, but not forever, and without a working rancher, as his grandfather observed, “nearly any colt knows how to amenably depart.” It was something of a morale. They had been riding bareback in the mesa valley. Midnight stretched his legs with the fresh ardor of fatherhood, on a plain, and his gallop become more, and more thrilling, of a strange reality in the space ahead of him, the rider, and the space flourished behind them; a brisk wind was multiplied against their face, and in the wake, and twice the joy of it was displayed to the colt, Reese, who was tied to watch from a tree. Twains are given to growth, to expansion, almost naturally, and can’t easily be stopped, except by misfortune. He, and Midnight shortly discovered their midst in a cavern of reddened clay, and the environs of stone formation, and they pulled up, the horse rearing unhappily, well into the air, and it was a strange, eerie moment, the reckoning of how alarm is about to become surreal. Midnight had not bothered to watch the path, and he sowed his head, graciously not reminding him, the rider, a map of their rude was, as he explained to Mariya, the “only reason a horse allows a rider to join him.” She frowned. The cavern was illuminated by moons, in these months. The cavern did provide an elusive fact: near the mesa, where the horizon spanned three-hundred and sixty degrees, there was a grand scad of incredible beauty; and it would take part of forever to repair one’s best-laid plan. That is, the man, and his horse, were not lost in the cavern; they had found the cavern, and it had been lost by the mesa.
This was a modest subject. Reese, by now, had worked easily to wind the rope tie about, and over his neck, as if to simply to say “no” to all of this fun, and play without him. Reese pulled apart a knot, and been freed to the realm of Proverbs. He commenced in the stride of a colt entirely to the wrong direction; and, more so, Reese’s effort was a benefit to the lasso of another rancher, given to comb the plains, in case any yearlings might have strayed, or been misplaced.
The colt, Reese, had roamed instinctively in the wood, where the air was cool, and it seemed sensible to him, alone here, waiting, in the wild, and crossing the fallen branches, and greeting some of the birds, for a few days, through the rambling brooks, until from seemingly nowhere, there was a preemptive “whoa,” and the rope of the kind rancher yanked at his neck.
The denial of these facts made the long story “no story at all,” he told his wife. They would have to “fix it,” somehow, however dolefully.
He saw Mariya in the corridor from the house in the late-afternoon, when the sunlight dawned about equably past the roof line. He was soaked, and he was shaking water from a green poncho in front of him. He allowed a moment to pass, elapse, and told her, “There’s no story, really, We just went out, Midnight, and I. Here we are. He wasn’t tied, – he worked off the rope tie, — but Reese was still standing at the same tree. It was about the same spot. He was just then breaking loose.”
“Well that’s good,” responded Mariya. “Good.”
“Yes, it is,” he said. “He knew where to go, Midnight.”
She admired, “He must be happy.” He shrugged. Nothing to it.
Anymore nothing was ahead of them, and there was no memory of the past; the tense did no longer apply, or was ever realized from days to day. There were no longer any matters of lasting consequence, except for the braces of nimble gale in their lungs, and hearts, just the fade of amaranth skies, ways of the glow of azure moons, where red fades in early light. They needed to climb the mesa for dinner by the carriage trail, which was a whitewash board riser scaling over of a brook, feeding a pond hidden in a canopy of trees. Mariya contently remarked, about the grace of the breeze, “beautiful.”
“Do you ever think you’d want to leave?”
He said, “No.”
With a whisper of words, and her arm waving soporifically at her side, she said, “Then, tell me the one about the stars, – “Agua?” – the one with all the vowels,” and “shouldn’t that be ‘water’?”
He told her “agua” was a type of a koan, but he couldn’t recall if he made up the particular poetic strata. He allowed, “Alright.”
He recited, “We are where we are? Here,/where there are stars: tarry,/the stars, where we are, where/we are, in space – the stars!”
“Hah,” Mariya smiled. She mulled Reese, and gazed at the sky through the trees, at the bluing of sunset heavens, at the cerulean clouds, adjoining randomly to swipe as cumulus, easing away. ◊
¤ JUKE BOX ¤
Theme: “I’ve Been This Way Before,” Neil Diamond | playlist, “Flea Markets, Nos. 51- ,” a myopic vaile, (No. 48).
♦ Theme (above): “In the Early Morning Rain,” Gordon Lightfoot | playlist, “Flea Markets, Nos. 51- ,” a myopic vaile, (No. 47).
..… from “^; or, CARET,” III of III,
The Echo By Seas; & Other Stories, by Soda Tom,
[Complete Works, No. 01]. Copyright (C) 2017-20, ff.
All Rights Reserved.
Created by Soda Tom