The Song of Debra

We walked the narrow Michigan country road between rains, the dog straining at her leash to pull us forward, my friend laughing at her frenzied pet.

There was silence filled with words and words filled with silence.

It seemed as though we could touch the low clouds, and there was the constant rumble of thunder in the distance. The grasslands along the woods were ember-colored, a prairie fire of light and dark sky. Stands of forest shook their branches, and tree rain fell, a baby’s rattle morphing into a maraca, the reedy breeze the percussionist.

We passed an aged barn, its boards soaked and stained from rain scars. Two horses watched us from the barn doors. They knew the dog and the woman. We walked to the fence, and the horses came outside and put our hands in their warm mouths, noses noisily sniffing.

This was a painting, I thought, light and shadow that might have made Vincent envious – cloudy, cloudy night, out of the bleeding sunset.

That night, after Debra and the dog had gone home, I sat in her boyfriend’s living room (he was at a wedding in Cincinnati) and listened to the rain fierce the rain soothing the rain ranting at bent trees. Acorns landed on the roof and burst like popcorn.

I sipped scotch. The power went out. The house was a black hole. My bones ached. I groped my way to the dining room. I sat and looked out the window. The black bird feeders black-gold with finches. Tufted titmice. Chickadees singing blues. Redheaded woodpeckers hammering. In the ink, the blackness, the dream light. I sipped scotch.

Outside, Gregg’s stone labyrinth above the pond, a line of possum pilgrims, masked bandits, coyotes praying, a killdeer crying ‘let me Kodak you, baby,’ a disbarred owl seeking penance, and denning, snoring snakes beneath the stones.

Let us prey pray praise posit ponder palliate: The ebony nightlight. The tintinnabulation of bluebells, baby’s tears, baby’s breath. The blackened fish stirred in pond song. The dark matter and the matted mud and the leaf pudding and the dark doesn’t matter and blackness matters.

Soughing black lives of snails, spiders, mosquitoes buzzing ears, beetles, bats, sleeping fox kits, a lagging hummingbird, thoughts, crows looking at baby pictures: matter.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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