I could swear I felt the earth shift on it’s axis as I dreamt in shallow sleep. Behind my eyes I saw the elusive rabbit who would stay just out of reach as I sniffed the earth catching his scent right before it cooled to grass temperature. In my dreams I am a cunning hunter with the wisdom of a feline who lies in wait while her prey gains enough confidence to come out of hiding. I sniff the air until the smell of fear fades into the sweet scent that rises from the earth as the sun bakes it like a dessert in a plump woman’s oven.
It’s a hard life for a hound who was born to hunt but belongs to a master who wasn’t. Sometimes the marrow would cry out through the pores in my bones and tug at my joints, threatening to walk out of my flesh and hunt on their own. The want in my able muscles would rise to pounce but, with nothing to carry home, it would turn to acid and sit like poison within the grain and make me feel like a worn out old man.
I would lie in the cool dust next to the giant oak and watch my master with a sigh and the sight of him made me want to nap from boredom. He would go out every morning and work the ground with his metal and flesh. He would crack callouses and sweat the ground moist and rich. He would be meticulous in removing rocks and breaking clumps. He had a touch that turned red dirt black.
I used to watch him work and salivate at the promise he was making with his hunched back. Any man who worked so hard would usher in such a harvest that the very color green would be greener with envy at the sight of his crop. He works like he’s making a kingdom of bounty that would stretch it’s arms out to his unbegotten generations and they would be born with full bellies and cheeks so pink they would be hot with health when I kissed them.
I used to watch him with a chest full of pride and a heart that beat with anticipation. I would watch him walk away from his field and beat him to his shed where he kept his seed. He would open the wide door and the breeze it kicked up blew over my fur and cooled me as it creaked with a final crash against the side of the shed. Sunlight poured in and illuminated the brown bags like a spotlight on the easy part of what made my master’s back ache for the minty balm that his plump wife would rub into his skin at night. As he picked up the bag I could hear the seeds rubbing against themselves and I imagined that as they sat in the darkness of the shed, they must have been craning to hear the masters footsteps coming to get them and shove them into the dirt that he had prepared. His rough hands would hold small morsels of earth in their cracks and under his nails and, as he pushed them down into the bag to let the seeds run between his fingers, the tiny grains would reach for the dirt on his hands and try to bury themselves in the shallow tease that it was. Then, to my confusion and to the seeds torment, he would place the bag back on the shelf and plod his heavy feet into the house.
I watched my master do this every day, every year, and I no longer follow behind him in the field helping him sniff out rocks and snakes. I no longer race him to the shed and wag my tail to the music of the seeds dancing against each other when he picks up their bag. As I age every year, I have become an old man compared to my master. I can see into his soul through the black holes in his eyes and the creases in his finger tips tell me the secrets that not even he knows. As I lick his face and clean his hands, I listen to the dirt as it grits between my teeth and I sit in the dust of the earth in the shade of the oak as they tell me his secrets.
The dirt, who by now knows him well, whispers his truth. My master doesn’t trust the seed. He’s afraid to put it in the earth because once it’s down, it’s impossible to pick it back up. Once the seed and the earth join, then a new life begins and he’s afraid that the new life will turn on him and make him a failure. If he never plants, then he never fails. Or so he thinks. He works the earth like a master and buys the best seed every season, but he never puts the two together and every bit of his world cries out in silent agony as he numbs the ache in his heart with the sun on his back and the sweat in his eye.
His wife has cried out to him. The earth has turned over for him. The seed clings to him. Yet he always puts the bag back on the shelf.
That is, until today.
The curtains on the windows in the house parted their premonition. The boards on the porch forgot to creak under his boots. The grass didn’t even bend under his steps for fear they would miss something. The fence posts stood up straighter as they watched him walk across the yard. My ears lifted involuntarily as I watched him enter the shed. Not a soul breathed a single breath or relaxed a single muscel while we waited for the master to emerge.
I don’t know how the curtains knew what the boards knew what the grass knew that the fence posts knew, but I knew that the earth had shifted on it’s axis because that morning my master came out of the shed holding the bag.