The harvest nearly complete, the farmer’s neighbors tied the remaining sheaves of corn together and flung their knives at them. It was a game called Crying the Mare and it made Jonathan think of himself growing up. He thought of the deep wise voice he heard in his dreams and he threw knives at it to pin it to the wall, but the wall in a dream doesn’t hold much. He wanted that voice.

“I’ll have turnips for lunch. There’s no deception in a turnip,” said Petrov while the knives whistled and the shouts of “Almost” rent the air. Twas an unexpected wisdom indeed that sent the sky into the children’s pockets at that moment, but there you have it.

It matters not to the progress of innocence that the river continues weeping.

Tom the Seeker saddled the children’s clouds with warnings of impending doom. He still carries a knapsack to hold the emptiness he finds. He’ll sleep in it.

Jonathan was hidden somewhere inside Jonathan. “I’ll try to be an accurate knife,” he thought. His eyes were open. He began counting the bundles of sheaves.

Tom the Seeker gave Jonathan a wooden plate and said, “To the silent trees I offer my excess. If this does not speak for them, I’ll replace it with the rich smell of rotting seaweed.” He gave Jonathan a fork, turned around in a slow circle and began barking at the sky.

Before it began raining, a farmer’s sickle struck the knot in a bundle of corn sheaves and everyone shouted three times. Jonathan and Petrov stopped eating clouds long enough to feed the other children. The field was still hungry. There were no birds left in that field to verify the wind in our place and no deep wise voice to separate sleeping from waking.

Q: How much does fear weigh?

A: Too little to carry all the way home.

And the mare sleeps in the harvested field and listens to the dreams of the sheaves and runs farther in the dream than when it wakes.

There’s a voice in everything you do, but sometimes it’s not your voice. And then it is. And then you live there.

Rich Ives: has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. His story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, was one of five finalists for the 2009 Starcherone Innovative Fiction Prize.

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