The Dirt and the Weeds
He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation.
It rests here,
on the five hundredth and third floor
of a five hundred and three story building.
This blanket is the place where my father sits.
All but him are forbidden to rest here.
This blanket comes from the time when he lived
on the ground below,
with the dirt and the weeds,
when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area,
sitting in comfortable ease
and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers,
who should pull forth the sun across the sky,
who should govern the revolution of the seasons,
who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests,
and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun
It is from here
that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips,
and I did so,
and he began to tell me of the time
when he lived on the ground below,
with the dirt and the weeds,
and what happened at dawn one morning
while he was preparing for the day.
Long time ago, he told me,
some people who he had never seen came to him
and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped,
but he said, "No. I have been here such a long time already."
One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter.
We are a gracious people, and we have decided
that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen.
But since you refuse to be displaced outward,"
he told my father,
“we shall simply displace you upward.
we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
and your blanket,
so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
My father stepped aside, bewildered.
"Larry," said the man,
get your men over here and lay down a cement slab."
Turning back to my father, he said,
"As well, we have decided that we would like to
build up our walls
around you, and in so doing,
we will raise you to a place
where neither you nor your people have ever been."
"Where is that?" my father asked.
“Old man," he was told,
“prepare for your ascent into heaven. Frank?
Gather your men.
Four walls and a ceiling, please."
My father folded his blanket over the wet cement
and sat down on top of it.
"I am fine here," he said,
and the four walls and the ceiling
began to close in around him.
The people who were gathered near,
becoming more and more by the minute,
then raised their hands to the sky
and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
father a powerful movement,
setting into motion the rise of a massive
four-cornered structure made of brick and steel.
The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
was said to have been felt across the plains,
where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
thunder and began to pour forth its rain,
over the mountains,
where the Spine of God is said to have trembled,
through the basins,
where the fruits of the trees
were moved to fall from their branches,
and down into the sea
where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
And so began the ascension of my father
into this place called heaven.
when I sit with him,
he likes to tell me that he is still able,
when he closes his eyes,
to hear the weeds in the wind,
blowing their music close to the ground.
Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.