Tuft Love

by Sal James


I awoke slowly, and rubbed the dark haze from my eyes. The desert air was cold today. It should have been daylight, but instead a black shadow hung in the air. Looking up, I saw that the sky was almost completely blacked out, crawling with thousands of swirling shapes. As I focused and my vision cleared, I could make out the unmistakable silhouettes, and my heart stopped... Dragons! In all my life I had seen only one, and that was a quick glimpse while exploring the cliffs as a child. I also remembered old legends and descriptions of the dragon, a fierce powerful creature who could appear suddenly in our reality, and with a single thought, bring death, life, order, or chaos. Dragons were rarely seen by people unless one of these events was about to take place. As I thought about this phenomenon, and now multiplied it by thousands, a hideously helpless feeling began to come over me. The dragons had now aligned, and were gliding together in a large circle overhead. Half in fear and half in awe I watched, as inside the circle, a huge dark rip began to open in the middle of the sky.

It was the cloud holder that had torn. Great tufts of billowing fluff tumbled through the opening as the next dragon in the precise line caught each elliptical pile on its back, deftly and gingerly as one might support a snow-white cream puff on the back of one's hand.

There were the foretold clouds of Omorro, with healing or destructive powers that hinged on the perception of the beholder.. I remembered my grandmother's tale of enlightened self-interest. She had said that a man's cloud came but once in a lifetime. One must be ready to absorb all and store all the wispy fronds for the time that they would be needed. Each cloud was a miracle to harbor, if you will, until the moment arrived like a radiant invitation, "The cloud, please. Use it now."

My grandmother's cloud had arrived in her nineteenth year as she was walking down a darkened hallway. The dragon bearing the cloud had the face of Jesus on her holycards, so that she knew it was a gift to mull and muse over. She meted out its thick spirit over the course of her long and happy life.

The man my grandmother eventually married had found his cloud in the soil, left behind long before by a dragon who knew my grandfather's season had not yet come and would not come until he dug and planted in the soil. The wisdom of dragons had long been praised.

Those without integrity who came upon their cloud before their wisdom deepened with the years, fared not so well. They were sometimes crushed by the weight of their 'treasure', or they squandered it and remained enduringly bereft.

At half a century in age, I was ready for the bequest. I looked up at the dragons toiling and twirling with their precious loads. Deliver them well, I thought. Peace and Godspeed. Gratitude to the dragons who transported the fluff tufts.

I was ready.