This word I like... We architect our life...
A song, a sigh... developing words that linger...
Through fields of green, through open eyes... It's for us to see.
Interanimate: To animate or inspire mutually

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Dais - Part 2 of 7

Dedicated to William Henry Anderson 1920-2012
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When she found herself again she was looking down, this time at Toto. Toto was looking back at her with his adorably large brown eyes. He was growling playfully through a mouthful of hay. Scarecrow was on her right, grimacing, biting a piece of cloth that was the material making up his lower lip. He was making a valiant effort to remain silent while leaning on a railing to support his weight on his remaining foot. Scarecrow was an amazing and talented man; but very quiet when he wasn't singing. He danced a lot, mostly when Toto was around. Dorothy realized she would have to help Scarecrow put his foot back together soon. First she would have to catch Toto to make him give up the hay.

She loved this scarecrow man. His name in her dream was Hunk. Hunk knew her father when they were young river drivers on the St. Johns river in Northern Maine. He told her this soon after he arrived on the farm. Dorothy was a fairly new resident at Uncle and Auntie's farm at the time Hunk arrived.

Hunk showed up one day smelling like whiskey, head hung low and wearing dirty overalls. He and Hick had obviously been travelling by foot for some time. Overall, Hunk was quite a nice, likable man, but Dorothy felt a deep sorrow in him that sometimes made her feel uneasy. He was an experienced worker. So even though Uncle Henry had no money, he hired him that summer. Times were tough. There wasn't much to do for a third hand on the farm. But, starting in late July, when the corn was chest-high, Uncle Henry put Hunk to work chasing crows away from the fields. Usually the crows weren't a problem until August, but he hired Hunk in July. With the drought going on 3 years, the crows were both thirsty and extra hungry. In the fall Hunk worked the scythe and packed hay. In the winter he worked in town somewhere fixing wagons, but he always bunked in the farm’s barn. The bunk house was only big enough for two men so all three of them, having become friends, decide to sleep in the barn up in the hay mow. Hunk didn't take care of himself much in the morning. He'd get up, crawl or fall down the hay loft ladder, grab some jerky for breakfast, and hit the fields before the crows arrived. He was a sight to behold running through the fields waving his arms, singing; hay still clinging to his crusty jeans and poking out of his shirt sleeves. Whatever he was doing was scaring the heck out of crows.

Dorothy remembered that on one of his first Saturdays in July, when the mid-day heat had the crows keeping to the shade of the Maple trees, Hunk had come by the house to talk to her. Dorothy got a real good look at him. Kind blue eyes, white and prematurely wrinkled skin, brownish nose, dark hair. Hunk wore a dark vest buttoning in his small patterned flannel shirt. Her favorite pattern was small checkers, like her frock. Hunk was wearing a medium brimmed farm hat that kept his longish hair in check. She thought he might be around 35 years old. Dorothy thought how ordinary he looked compared to her friend she was with now, the one she knew as Scarecrow. She wondered why she had such detailed dreams about a man so much like Scarecrow, and why her dreams were lifeless, dull, and colorless. Her real world here was cheerful, colorful, and fascinating. And yet the memory of what Hunk told her in the dream flooded now into her mind. The memory was irrepressible and she felt she was mindlessly dancing near the edge of a bottomless pit. She had no control to stop it. Speaking with unmovable rubber lips, Hunk told her that her father asked him to come to the farm to help her, Henry, and Marguerite. As they sat on two oak barrels next to the house, Hunk’s head was down and turned towards her. His eyes filled with tears as he spoke.

"Your Dad and I were best friends. We met while working for the St. Johns Timber company near Ft Kent, Maine. Me and Billy must have rode a thousand logs down to River Falls from Claire. We were river drivers, trying to keep the logs moving down river. Every single run many old trees would find a way to get themselves hung up on the river bank, stopping the whole darn float. Me, Billy and Sky, used our peavys to break the trees free so they'd go on their way. Billy was like my brother. We'd do everything together when not dancing on those rolling logs. The only way to stay alive was to learn to run, learn to dance on them trees. We helped each other, saved each others lives more than a few times. Me and Billy worked around 7 years on the river when we were just young men."

"One night in Fort Kent we were at a dance. We had taken an interest in dancing so we could meet girls. Well, to make a long story short, your Dad met Maddie. Madeliene Thibodeau was her full name. She was the most beautiful girl your Dad said he had ever seen. I could not agree with him only because I myself was dumbstruck by her beauty. I just said she was a fine looking girl. Well, you of all people should know how beautiful she really was."

Dorothy remembered her. Long red hair like hers. Green bright eyes. Burned in memory of the inescapable dream. This person, dream person, was so real. But she knew the mother in her dream would not deliver her from the deepening despair and conflict she felt. The dream was full of details that mocked her now. A mother of flesh and blood; she could still see her face when she first opened her eyes to the world as a newborn. A short lifetime of memories lined up in front of her like so many summer rainbows, moving away after the rain, beckoning her to follow. Following her mother around the farm with her head no higher than mothers thigh, finally reaching somewhere she was leading in order to help her do something important. Running with her across the yard to catch a floating wisp, laughing uncontrollably at the mud that consumed her and painted her new dress. Walking to school with her, singing the rain song to try to bring rain for the fields. Somewhere over one of those rainbows was a drenching trying to reach the crops. When mother taught Dorothy the alphabet, she adopted endearing names for everyone other using letters. Mommy 'Em' and Dorothy Dee. Em sewed a red D on Dee's dresses. Mommy Em was truly beautiful and loving. Yet sadly, she had to watch the fragility of life slowly consume her. Dorothy could not bear to think about it and escaped. The later parts of these dreams suffocated her if she thought about them too much. Especially lately.

Hunk was still talking, "I am both happy and sad to tell you Dorothy, that from the day he met Maddie, your Dad and I didn't see each other much when we were not working. Billy spent most of his time with Maddie. I was happy for him because he was so happy with her. He talked about Maddie all the time. But I was sad because I felt like I was losing my best friend. He called on Maddie often at her folks home in Claire. Unlike me and Billy, she was educated,. Billy didn't think he was good enough for her." Hunk must have seen the sadness that slipped across Dorothy's face.

"There I go again, Dorothy. Making too much talk. Anyway, your Dad and Maddie got married and moved to Wisconsin a few short months later. She had an older brother there who promised to help Billy learn farming outside of Portage. The farm was near a big river where he could always find a new job if farming did not work out. I don't know how much you know about any of this Dorothy. Billy may not have told you anything about our friendship. He talked about you and Pike all the time in his many letters. I think Maddie actually penned the letters for him until three or four years ago." Pike. Dorothy dimly remembered now another part of the dream. Her younger brother. The older memories were many and happy, but a suffocating flood of emotions waited there too. She started to panic. She grabbed at the nearest thought to escape a great fall; she found Hunks voice. He was still talking to her.

"Billy said Maddie taught him how to read and write.", Hunk said solemnly. "Your Dad wrote me often over the last 11 years. He wrote to me last six months ago about poor Maddie. I was heart broken Dorothy. Your Dad saved my life so many times on the St. Johns, He was the brother I never had. So I promised him back in St. Francis that if he ever needed me, I would be there for him."

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