On some nights in the lambent, moonlit air shadows of tall pines and burial mounds seem to dance and move volitionally all along the mountain. They tumble and chase one another like children or young animals at play.
There are stories that tell of those who long ago tended the warning beacons for which this mountain is named now wandering here after death – restless spirits waiting to be reborn.
On nights when the shadows tumble and dance the stories could be true.
It is late summer.
At dawn the sky still breaks against the mountain in waves of pale blue mist. The sun emerges and the waves of mist recede, drawn in to wait again for nightfall when once more they will flow upon the mountain’s face in an azure tide.
From the vanishing darkness a rooster’s crow heralds the momentary triumph of a new day.
The clattering of my alarm clock shatters the sleep that surrounds me and I surface from a dream. Lying in bed I struggle to guard from marauding consciousness the fading apparition of a girl who is at once both as strange and remote to me as a fairy kingdom and the sum of every woman I’ve ever known, loved, cherished, cursed. Her ember eyes flash finally as the dream is outstripped by reality and I am left alone in the growing glow of morning.
In the kitchen my coffee maker exhales its rich, resuscitating breath in periodic sighs. I pour a full cup. I am going to need it. Sleep still clings to me like a shroud. With each heavy blink a vague image of the girl I dreamt returns and flits across my mind like a photo negative or one of the ghosts on the mountain.
I walk to the window.
Opposite where I live there is a small vegetable garden. Rows of pepper and bean plants, bellflowers with milky lavender blossoms, and a pumpkin patch grow here. All are enclosed by a wire fence from which ivy hangs like a shaggy, green beard. Every day with bowed back and dirt covered knees the same old woman tends to this garden. Standing at the window, the cup of coffee cooling in my hands, I watch her.
The old woman lays down her hand spade straightens her back inhales deeply and with knotted gnarled fingers begins turning over a pile of desiccated pepper plants beneath which grow seedlings their stems and leaves as pale with newness as the new day seedlings protected and nourished through the decay and death of the plants from which their seeds were harvested seedlings that in a short span of time will lay shriveled on the earth with new life burning under them and the old woman will strip the familiar shroud from their reincarnated selves as she has done since the time before her remembering and offer them anew to the creative chaos of the sun.
I finish the coffee and close my eyes. But no image of the girl returns.
About the Author
T. Paul Buzan
Originally from Kansas City, MO t. paul buzan has lived in Korea since August 2007. He has published in “10 Magazine” and at “ExPatLit.dotcom.