Waking the Child

In the dream, walking August pasture:
Gold butterflies hover over wild mustard
Bees buzz pink milkweed blooms
And stark purple tufts of ironweed stalks
A cardinal cuts across my field of vision.
A crow caws from cicada-chorused locust trees.

The smell of mint, manure from the herd
Grazing in the shade of the Osage grove.
Their tails slash at flies;
Jaws grind side to side
While they watch me walk
To the top of the rise,
Where I find him, the child
Who appears to be sleeping.

I nudge him with my toe.
The small tanned form does not stir.
Circling the body, I see how much
He looks like me as a child.

I reach my bare foot tentatively toward him again;
Playfully scratch his rib with my yellowed toenail.
He doesn't seem to be breathing.
I nudge him a little harder with my foot;
Give a firm push, making his arm slide down
Across his heart until his small hand
Rest in the dirt.

I see the birthmark on his back.
My mark, my self. He is me,
As a child, sleeping.
Or, is he dead?

Drawing my leg back, I hinge
The weight of my foot against the tendons
In my knee and snap my leg out
Like a punter, kicking the wall
Beside my bed.

I scream, reach for my toe, the torn nail,
Raw as dawn in the dark dream, and bleeding
I grip my sole, while my body
Tumbles through turning, bawling,
Awakened on the bedroom floor.