On the Banks of the Jabbok

It feels like a child standing on the edge of great Iowa field looking out past the fence but feeling too scared to go beyond them. 

I can see him, in his bib-overalls, his straw hat, his bare feet, boots pulled off and set to the side, a small stream down the other side of that fence that he just wants to jump and wade in. But doubt comes with the thought of run-off, of bad shit floating throughout the flow ready to drift into his pores and toxic-shock the ---- out of him. This is no good, he thinks, the reasons coming up following the wish, the reasons to give up and not try. Why go here, why do this? 

And the house behind him, the two-frame farmhouse, painted in simple whitewash and a bit peeling around the edges, that house with its old familiar nooks and crannies, all the ways he loves it, although the idea now of returning is like the idea of a cornplant grown halfway to its height wanting instead to return to the familiarity of its own broken seed shells under soil. The wish of the plant is for the sun, and although the nourishment also comes from the soil, to return to the earth is supposed to happen after the harvest; a cornstalk that doubts itself would certainly wither. 

And so here he stands, our lonely boy, out on the edge of the fence, solitary but not wishing for company, salt in his mouth like tears being swallowed. 

He’s our dumbo-elephant, then isn’t he, with the suggestions of smoke lingering  at the corners of his lips, the inhale to lift the heart and bring him up to the sky? The release it might give, isn’t that already inside him? How to unlock it without the clench of the feather? 

The sun now stays long in the sky, but it’s at his back and burning his neck. He clambers over the fence when a barb catches his pantleg and trips him up, making him dance for a moment with one leg cocked in the air like a jammed rifle. Does he allow the catch to pull him sideways soulwise? Does he read it like a sign? Or just the first of the challenge? What’s it take to break free from the doubt, the rat-in-the-maze busy thoughts that work against his own movement towards the sun, the embrace of his cornstalk soul reaching for the sky?

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