By Tyson West
I can’t recall now if my brother and I were Cub Scouts, Campfire Boys or Indian guides
In my Niles, Michigan second grade
Eisenhower golfed at Burning Bush and I was learning to love worries of his heart attacks and
Dad, defiant as usual, would not accept cancellation of
Our tribe’s camping trip to Warren Dunes State Park
Thunderstorms were prophesied to charge us from the great lake.
He decreed we were ready and going anyhow
Then. I could fret my fear of lightning.
Dad drove our ’56 pink and white Buick three hole station wagon
Westward along two lane roads through forests I’ve long forgotten
To the mysteries of time and sand and water that have never forsaken me.
I first met time in school yard gravel
Hauled up from the river to fill a trench or two
At recess we gleaned its pebbles for indian beads
Cylindrical polished chert with stringing holes drilled
In the center of each bead shaped by long dead hands.
Long ago, dad proclaimed, the Powhatan tribe had lived here, safe from thermonuclear war
I had no reason then
Not to disbelieve him.
Time now ran ahead to initiate me to water and sand
We unloaded our musty canvas tent and red plaid flannel sleeping bags
At the place of sand shifting under the west wind.
My brother and I laughed through the sparse grass
Ran along a beach with no rocks to throw
Until endless dusk trailed away over the lake
While dad pitched the tent under bleak indigo sky and built our campfire
Only the wind intruded to smoke our sands.
In fresh air exhaustion from climbing ever rising dunes
Far from the lights of town
Sprawled on a sand mountain, that instant before sleep swallowed me
I suddenly grasped more stars lay above
Than grains of sand beneath my hollow bones.
Tyson West has published speculative fiction and poetry in free verse, form verse and haiku distilled from his mystical relationship with noxious weeds and magpies in Eastern Washington. He has no plans to quit his day job in real estate. His rondel “Under the Bridge” placed third in the Second Annual Kalanithi Writing Contest at Stanford University.
Featured image by Rachel Kramer / CC BY