There’s a great deal on my mind today.

My dad’s currently in surgery — his second in as many months — having part of his other foot amputated. Seems Agent Orange is the gift that keeps on giving, even some fifty years later.

I worry about his heart.

My wife is fighting nearly every waking hour — which are too many — for her dream of a better world, carving carefully around angry voices as her exhaustion makes me wonder: how can a dream be maintained with so many sleepless nights?

I worry about her heart as well.

All of this concern, typically, I’d funnel into my work. Transform it into a horror story or use it for notes for another novel of magical realism.

But I’m too tired today. And snow is coming on the day before Halloween. There’s too much worry.

So instead, I’m going to share this little almost-poem that won me a prize once upon a time. Because my dad is already dreaming up what kind of cane topper he wants, and my wife is even as I write this out doing her thing.

Clock Watching

I dreamt I was outside.

In the dream, I sat beneath the large oak in our front yard, barefoot in the grass.

Whatever is the matter?” asked the oak.

“It’s my birthday tomorrow.”

Wonderful. You should have cake.”

“But…I’m another year older.”

Indeed. Per the custom.”

“That makes me worry.” I pulled at the grass with my toes.

Worry? What is ‘worry’?” the oak questioned, swaying its branches.

“I’m aging.”

That is worry? Worry is a simple word.”

“You don’t understand.”

“Hence my question. What is to worry about a birthday? It’s just another number.”

“It’s a bigger number.”

I see. How many full moons have you seen?”

“I – what?”

I have seen more than three thousand, personally. How many times have you played in the rain?”

I tried to remember even the last time I’d played in the rain…

How many times have you said ‘I love you’ and meant it?”

I don’t know.”

“If you are going to only dignify certain numbers in your life special significance, might I suggest more worthwhile numbers than the passing of time? Only a fool watches the clock while hearing a wondrous tale.”

There the dream ended and I woke.

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