Monday, November 14, 2016


Staring into that blackness in the center of a band of red. I've seen it a thousand times before in my life. It's the card that keeps coming up no matter how many times I cut the deck. This is my story of circles, circles bound and circles spoken. Hear me know as I yield up my life to you. Feel that great rush of wind fill your lungs. See the light come flooding in. Smell the blood. Smell the life. Smell the fire, light in the dark.

I am born, it's happened to me several times, first in a hospital. White tiles, green curtains, shiny silver, white enamel, green scrubs the smell of disinfectant, cheap pine scented disinfectant.  There's not much that makes sense left from this birth in me. Just scattered sensations jangling around in the dark. Strong hands grip me. Light wakes me. Air shakes me. Then the next birth comes on.

I am three years old standing on the edge of a soybean field. Standing in the wreck and ruin of an abandoned farmyard. The other fields had neatly knitted up the edges and a barnyard full of rusting appliances and scrapped cars is all that’s left. I am three years old and I am staring at the setting sun as a storm cloud passes in front of it. The sun burns through the clouds like a fiery iris, and I know God. I feel strong hands grip me, light wakes me, and air shakes me. My father picks me up and we run to the house as it starts raining, hard.

Six years later in a distant relatives house I am staring into the glass eye of a pheasant dead and mounted on a shelf. The band of red encircling the dot of black, and over it a glossy sheen. There is a fire crackling somewhere in the room, but I was lost in the depths of the eye. I feel invisible hands grip me; grip my lungs from the inside. I feel God's hands. I am woken by light, by bright red fire light shining from that glossy eye. The air shakes and shivers and I shiver and shake with it. I see the sun burning behind the clouds and the edges of my vision blur with light that may be white tiles as I feel God.

I am twelve sitting in the dark staring into a campfire. My Boy Scout troop is sitting around listening to a story told by our troop leader. I stare into the fire where a knot on a log has not burnt. Deep black charcoal ringed by a burning red rim. As the scout master tells us about a hook scratching on the roof of a car I feel strong hands grip up my spine and grab me by the lungs and I'm in the presence again. Light wakes me. Air shakes me. I see the flash of the sun behind clouds. I see the edges of my vision as I scream myself awake from birth and I see the glossy pheasants eye lit with fire light. Air shakes me, light wakes me, I am gripped by strong hands.

I am fifteen and running on the field with the football in my hands and the pads like the armor of justice around me and I'm running towards Victory and the land of sweet rewards. Running 'til there's fire in my lungs and legs and blood, 'til there's fire in my soul. The hit comes, strong hands, the ground hits me.  Light wakes me, the air shimmers and shakes me and I see the fiery red and bold dark black, and I hear ringing like a finger on glass or high distant rolling bells. I see the eye of a pheasant and the sun behind clouds and a burning knot of pine and a I see a black circle rimmed in red and bright white light.

I am seventeen tall and strong and bold and I am running through the woods with my crossbow, the deer are being driven and flushed this way by my father and my uncle. I see movement to my right, air comes burning into my lungs. I turn to fire and there I see it telescoped by adrenaline: the eye of a deer, blackness rimmed red. I fall to the ground gripped by strong hands. Light wakes me then. Air shakes me.

We are in an ancient desert city it's our third patrol of the week. How the dust and dry mud of these buildings can burn is beyond me. I am a machine gunner on top of a Hummvee. I see movement to my left and I swing the gun around and cycle rounds of thunder and fury and bolts of fear at the movement. We are under fire from all directions. There is swirling smoke there is red wicked flame, there are screams and explosions. I see friends and foes die, cut down before me. Wheat before the scythe. I know these things I hear them. I feel them. I see them. A rocket hits the front of my vehicle and I am thrown by the blast. Even now in this hot violent dusty land, now in the circle of death and ruin, now in the place where none of us know why we are fighting, but we fight until we die and bleed and can struggle no more, even as I lay on the ground stunned by the blast. Shook by it, shaken by it, taken by it. I feel them. I feel strong hands grip me. Light wakes me, air shakes me. I feel God. I am born.

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