A Hummingbird’s Promise
The dream comes again.
My son and I trekking up the narrow path
of a steep mountain.
To our left, brightly colored field flowers bloom,
their summer scents surround us
and call to the birds and bees and butterflies.
To our right, a steep cliff descends down
into a dark abyss whose secrets only God knows.
Beyond the dream, in the distant portion of my mind
capable of distinguishing dreams from reality,
I recognize what is coming, but
to stop events from unfolding on a subconscious mountain.
In the dream, my son holds my concentration
as I hold his hand.
I watch his every move
and protect him from the cliff.
He skitters up the path, smiling at the birds and giggling at the bees;
the small zoo of life delighting him.
The warm sun beckons sweat from our pores
as we travel on our trek to destinations unknown.
A flitter to the left announces a hummingbird’s arrival at the zoo;
the promise of a splendid sight,
the promise of a beautiful day,
the promise of … wonder… happiness.
For a moment,
only a moment,
my senses shift from my son to the hovering form of the hummingbird.
His hand slips from mine
as I point to the miraculous promise of beauty contained in the small bird.
“Look, Buddy,” I whisper in awe…
Sandpaper scratching steel, small shoes slipping,
as his feet… legs… waist disappears down the cliff
towards the dark abyss.
I reach, falling forward as my right hand finds his left.
My left hand grasps the ground over which I’m sliding
and finds the top of a rock protruding from the path.
The son of my dream weighs almost as much as the mammoth in my chest
forcing air from lungs struggling to draw breath.
My right arm and face protrude over the cliff’s edge.
The rest of me glues itself to the sharp sand of the pathetic path.
My son flails beneath my gaze,
his eyes screaming to me for help.
“Daddy, Daddy,” he cries to me,
and the sky, and the cliff,
and the unknown of the abyss,
as his flailing increases his weight.
Burning sunlight beats sweat from our pores
as his small hand begins to slip from mine.
“Hold on, Buddy,” I cry as my hand loses strength and his slips even more.
“I’ll never let you fall.”
Then flesh on flesh is no more as his screaming eyes
grow smaller and smaller against the rising dark abyss.
I sit up in bed, drenched from the sun of my dream.
Out of bed, across the hall to his room,
to his bed, by his side, my legs moving quickly, quietly;
a hummingbird’s wings.
He breathes softly, his eyes shuttered,
his blanket up to his chin.
My right hand moves to his head.
Trembling fingers rest on his crown, wiggling into his hair.
My touch promises:
a world with no bounds,
all his heart desires,
an unbroken heart…
I’ll always be there.
My heart flitters in my chest. The mammoth is gone.
Hair feels alive to a hand that could not hold on.
The dream will come again, and again he will fall.
To hold on to the slipping hand forever is the true dream.
I gently squeeze his sleeping crown as a father’s tear slips
off my cheek to the dark abyss of the bedroom floor.