Children of the Moon, Chapter 4: Flight Path

Sandy watched a brightly-decorated train
trundle by, carrying circus animals;
a slow-moving wave of tigers, lions, elephants,
camels, llamas and horses, painted vividly
on the cars; as if a dream passing by

After the fanciful caboose cleared the crossing,
he was surprised to see a girl his age
magically appear on the other side;
he walked over the tracks to her:
I’m Sandy. Are you new here?

Laurel Wing, the girl answered;
and in her hair Sandy saw the fire of red maples,
in her skin white birch, and in her eyes
blue delphinium:
Where were you going now?

Laurel replied, I am new here
and I’m just walking around
to see where I am.

He indicated the way: There’s a town
with a store, a gas station, and a school;
and when she hesitated to follow him,
he said: Okay, then
and started off on his own

Wait, she asked and he turned back around;
Can we just stay around here?
They don’t want me to go too far,
I’m living with my aunt and uncle;
and she pointed toward the home

Sandy checked the sky: Gonna rain;
when they began to walk together a short way,
Laurel kept her distance:
I’m from the hills of Tennessee, she told him,
and I feel like I’ve lost my boundaries.

She recalled a land of ups and downs:
attics and cellars, and mountains smoldering
with bursts of redbud, dogwood and mountain laurel;
and Sandy could see when he looked into her eyes
all of this landscape

Sandy and Laurel and Will and Mira
visited Shadow and traveled to and from school;
they were the three, really, four Musketeers

Crossing a field by a stand of pines one day
Mira jumped aside, and Laurel and the boys
slid to a stop, all eyes riveted to a coiled rattler
camouflaged behind a delicate fringe
of Indian coontie and saw palmetto

The snake wavered in limbo between attack
and staying close to her tiny young
winding around one another,
inspecting the edge of the nest;
Mira stepped back and the snake veered away

In the field where a line of pines jutted into sky
a bald eagle, blue black wings, white head
and a quiver of white tail feathers,
gripped a branch with large yellow talons
watching them with hooded eyes

A huge nest floated in the tallest pine
below a widespread canopy
by the edge of a burnished auburn field

The eagle spread its wings, swooping down
over the field, white and black feathers shining;
they watched it soar up to fly toward the river;
Laurel asked Mira: How do you say eagle in Spanish?
and Mira told her: Aguila.

Evening came, and in a dream
Laurel led a group into the wilderness
to look for eagles

As time passed without a sighting,
many were discouraged, but as they were walking
the ground began to tremble:
and Laurel sensed the eagles’ beating wings
triggered the rumbling in the land

The group moved forward again
and the trembling grew until it seemed the earth
would break open

Let’s go on, Laurel implored them:
The eagles have promised they will come;
the promise was in the land, the sky and the dream

Coming onto a plateau with views in every direction,
the group saw a solitary eagle rise from the horizon,
flying in an elliptical arc, in the eternal present

The eagles coasted across the sky filling their sight,
one after another in a dance of flight:
they changed formations and patterns
like semaphores
and transformed into a multitude of colors

The rumbling in the earth grew louder
and some of the group ran from the field;
the earth cracked open across their path;
Laurel and the others heard their cries
as they stood on the brink

Laurel and her group raced toward them, hoping
all could jump across before the chasm was too wide;
but with a roar a wide canyon opened its mouth;
the explorers huddled at the divide:
How do we get back home? Will we survive?

In slow motion one by one they were in the air
and Laurel saw them land on the far side;
she was unsure if they were flying on their own
or being lifted by the eagles,
when she felt herself take flight

At her home, Mira rose from dreams of sailing,
and when she opened the door, the sky
flew away like a wing

She dressed in second-hand clothes
and hearing her mother move about escaped
to the yard to watch her father leave the house,
pulling up his collar to ward off the storm
following at its own pace, sure of its power

After Kissing Mira on the forehead
Mr. Apaksi jumped into his battered jeep;
a cloud of dust curled across the yard

As he sped away, there was a change
from one level of quiet to another,
a shift of light as the heat creaked
and fluttered, lifting and falling,
like a sail in a fitful breeze

All the plants, trees and grass
gave off a heavy stifling aroma,
lingering like the smoke of gun blasts

Mira followed a road around the swamp
and she heard Will’s voice as she approached
the boy’s rambling ranch home,
where giant branches of live oaks touched down
and then soared up again into new trees

After lunch, Will led a stallion into the corral,
and swung into the saddle;
Sandy sat on the fence as ranch hands gathered;
Watch this, Will said to Mira
and the crowd along the fence began to murmur

The chestnut horse stood eerily at an angle,
head tilted back; in the bat of an eye
the horse rocketed off the ground,
back arched, suspended in air,
sun-fishing into the sky

The stallion came down without its rider;
Will, arms out-flung, plunged down;
teeth chattering, stars wheeling in his eyes;
he struggled to his feet, hands covered in dirt
and blood, transfixed by the clarity of the world

Will and Sandy’s mother, a champion rider
promptly ended the impromptu rodeo,
taking Will inside for first aid
while Sandy walked the horse to the stable
to brush him down

In the golden hour Mira loped home;
twilight winked and in a blink of her eye
the sun was gone

Mira ran along the railroad tracks,
her feet landing squarely on the wooden ties:
in the darkness, she could not see
where she was going,
she just knew

To read Children of the Moon, The Prologue click here
You can read the first three chapters from there.

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