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Pursuing the Dream Bone cover
Pursuing the Dream Bone - 2007

Pursuing the Dream Bone 

            This is a dream that has recurred since I was a boy:

            I’m in a cave, and, like a nineteenth century explorer, I hold a torch high overhead as I tramp through tunnel after tunnel. The tunnels curve and turn, their walls decorated with drawings of hoof tracks, bison, rumbling herds galloping while standing still, little men with bows and toothpick arrows, handprints pressed against the walls thousands of years ago.

            At times I think the torch that flutters these images into being is a prehistoric bone that lights my way, as if it is pursuing another bone, its twin, a dream bone that has been buried since the beginning of time but is as vital to its existence as the first woman, we’re told, was to the first man, emerging from one of his ribs to become everything he was not.

            Everything belongs to the past, even the gigantic earth-colored caverns the tunnels lead to, where old fire pits and bone piles hum at my approach and murmur when I draw near.

            The odor of ashes is everywhere. A damp chilliness surrounds me. What do the bones say? What do the ashes tell me? If I am the present, and this is the past, how can I make of them both a map that will direct me to a future that is more than an escape?

            Is my destiny nothing more than following these passageways? Knowledge nothing more than observing the signs on the walls, while breezes stir the ashes in the fire pits?

            From an underground river, the eyes of the dead watch me as they stream by.  They glitter beseechingly, and won’t let me forget.

            Each of my steps carries me farther into myself, yet farther from who I think I am.

            Past the fire pits, the river, the handprints dancing on the walls, I come to an unlighted cavern whose dimensions I am unable to determine. Holding the torch overhead like a match struck on a dark night, I know I have only a few moments before an enormous darkness will press against me, and I’ll wake up.

From: Pursuing the Dream Bone


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