Wednesday, April 15, 2009


There's this dream I have. I'm standing at the edge of a cliff, peering into a bottomless pit. There's a rusty bucket sitting at my feet. I carefully kneel down and grasp the wiry steel handle. It's a very heavy bucket. Heavier than it should, or even could be. I don't want to look at what's in the bucket. I rise back up, holding the bucket with two hands. I pause, feeling a cold breeze blow in my face. It's a strong breeze, and uncomfortably cool, but it's blowing me away from the chasm. Away from oblivion. I'm grateful to the breeze.

My arms are beginning to suffer under the obscene burden of the bucket. The wire handle is digging into the flesh of my palms and my fingers are going white from deprivation. How long have I been holding this bucket? Why won't I look inside? Why... Why is it so bloody heavy?

My groaning arms and screaming fingers are joined by my snarling back. The chorus is sublime. They sing of pain and desperation, but my mind picks up only a whisper, and the bucket remains in my grasp.

The pain is sharpening my recall. I've been standing at the pit for a very long time. I've been carrying the bucket even longer. It's never felt quite so heavy though. How did it get so heavy? I'm carrying it... It's my bucket. What did I put in there? And why don't I want to look?

My legs are shaking now. A rickety murmur joins the torture symphony. Clarity is my reward. Every time I try to think about what's in the bucket my eyes are drawn to the bottomless fissure before me... I've stood on the precipice of this chasm for as long as I can remember. I don't stand as close as I used to and I sometimes wonder why I come here at all anymore.

My feet are leaden. The weight of my cargo is driving me to shift from one foot to the other. A thumping baseline of dull discomfort. The orchestra ascends. The bucket overflows.

The bucket holds pieces of me. A broken arm when I was seven. A broken heart when I was seventeen. One eye spying only the future, another only the past. Each forever blind to the present. Ears that hear only criticism... A heart that fears.

I tip the bucket over the bottomless pit. The pieces tumble out and into the nothing. It takes a while. The symphony plays out to a diminuendo.

For the first time that I can remember I feel like I can go somewhere else. Anywhere else. My arms, my hands, my back, my legs, my feet... they can sing another song.

I decide to hang on to that rusty old bucket too. You never know when you'll discover something nice and want to bring it along with you.


jeri said...

wow, joe. that was really good and very moving. bravo. :)

One of Three said...

The 'bucket' has become a symbol for me. How many things I carry in it. For what reason? How I long to carry pretty things. Very soon. Thank you for sharing!!