So My Mother She Lives in the Clouds
The thing about my father is he tells stories you wouldn't believe. He says, “Simon, did you know there are dragons in these woods?” I have to shake my head because I don't, because it's necessary to admit I have no idea dragons live here if I want him to keep telling his story.
And I do. I want the story.
“Do you see this?” he says, pointing at what looks like a dead vine wrapping up around a tree. “Dragon tail. Don't touch it. Burns the skin, leaves a painful rash.”
“Where's the dragon?” I ask, studying the furry brown vine traveling up the trunk.
My father points to the top of the massive oak. “You can't see him. He blends in with the clouds and the sky.”
“Like a chameleon?” I ask. We've been learning about them in school. Ms. Kriggle says it's real magic what they can do.
“Yeah, camouflage,” my father says. “You can't see him, but he's there.”
“Where?” I ask.
“On top of the tree,” my father says, “the very top. He's perched there like a gigantic bird.”
“All day?” I ask.
“All day,” my father says, “eating clouds as they float by.”
“And you're sure he's up there? Right now, on this tree?” I ask attempting to touch the vine my father says is a tail.
“Don't do that,” he says, stopping my hand. “Remember about their tails.”
I let it go, my touching the vine, and instead imagine a dragon the color of the sky staring down at me. “Dad, are you sure? Because you said something like that about Mom, and now Ms. Kriggle is really upset with me.”
“She's not upset. Don't worry. She's just a little mad at me is all,” my father says. He puts his arm around my shoulders, stares at the top of the tree, up beyond the clouds, even a little further probably.
He's looking for her.
Except I don't believe Mom's there, not like how he tells it. I don't believe that story. Or the dragon.
“It's okay if there's not one,” I say looking at the clouds circling the top of the tree. My father, he doesn't say anything. Instead he takes off his gloves, itches his hand like crazy.
“I hate wearing these things,” he says motioning to the coarse workman's gloves he lets fall to the ground. “They drive me insane.”
I smile, try to imagine he's not. “What would it look like to see a cloud swallowed by a dragon you can't see?” I ask him. “How many clouds do they have to eat to live?”
6 | Psychopomp Magazine