Excerpt from Chapter One:
When I was very young, I had a recurring dream of my mother. I don't remember much of her, and much of what I remember is from this dream. It takes place on Main Street, Irwin, Tennessee, on a quiet, quiet morning; a gentle breeze blowing and there she is, far in the distance, down by Emerson's Compounding Pharmacy; skin so fair and dark hair shining in the morning sun.
In my dream, she is riding an Indian elephant, the kind with the small ears. Not the African elephant with the large, swooping ears. The Indian elephant is draped in brightly colored fabrics and scarves that bellow in the breeze and obscure my view of my Mother, making me slightly irritated.
Each time, the elephant clumsily lumbers down Main Street. At first, my Mother's grace and beauty seem in stark contrast to the mighty beast. But as they approach, as I stand there unable to move, just mesmerized by the presence of her, the elephant's clumsiness seems to flow into a gentleness - as if she and my Mother are swimming down Main Street - unburdened by gravity and enjoying their freedom and new found buoyancy. Her eyes, so round and deeply dark, seem to radiate knowledge and comfort.
Now, the elephant and my Mother belong to each other and they move to a rhythm all their own. I feel the heaviness in my chest, but watching the two of them, all I saw was flowing grace, brightly colored beauty and togetherness. My Mother and the elephant passed in overwhelming silence and i stood frozen on the sidewalk, wanting to stop time. desperately longing for sound and touch and all that comes with being awake.
This was a frequent dream of my childhood. I fell asleep longing for this dream in the same way I long to stay in it and abide there forever on that sidewalk. But this story takes place many years later and the dream had long since stopped.