LISTEN TO THE AUDIO RECORDING
A dandelion is torn from my hand by a wind that cloaks the prairie.
Storm clouds nock like archers, sky bruised and yellow.
My tabby cat’s fur is worried,
his eyes are flecks of gold shaken over a green river.
There is a cut on his belly,
fat and orange,
the blood well-licked.
He cries in the flowering tree in my front yard where
sheets of rain pain the branches.
Our horses lay down in the pasture,
bodies heaving like frightened angels.
Chickens hide in holes where they once took dirt baths.
I huddle in the basement with my mother and sister,
waiting for the storm to pass.
The projector carousel stalls.
Someone in the room coughs.
I can’t turn my head.
The images click forward once more.
I’m on a boat of tall sails on a glinting ocean.
My hand clasps a glass of golden wine.
The liquid shimmers and dances in the afternoon sunlight.
The boat see-saws gently like a rocking horse.
A gull swirls in the cornflower sky, free of clouds and storms.
A woman with blonde hair and calico sunglasses holds her hand at her brow.
“I told you the weather would turn,” she says.
The projector stalls.
“That was wrong,” says a smudge.
“Correct it. Hurry. Turn the slides backwards,” says another.
I am present.
My hands are on my knees.
My breath still,
joints stiff from the folding chair.
Others are in the room with me, watching slides of their own.
And I wonder:
Are any of these images really mine?
Or just memories that someone wanted me to see?
I stand to leave.
“You can’t go!” says the smudge.
“It’s too late,” says the other. “She’s awake.”