DANCING WITH SHADOWS

By John Thomas Tuft

Our imagination is a trip down a long dirt lane through the shading trees of a mighty forest, an invitation to explore what creatures may be at play beneath the sheltering crowns, where we are always as young as the morning. In this land, memories always fall like rain, washing over old scars, soothing past wounds, watering the growth of new dreams from the seeds of discarded hopes. In this land of wonder and awe, shadows can be doors in an impenetrable wall, rocks can be statues of kings, streams are full of fairies and mountains have spirits that call forth clouds and thunder. Around each bend in the road lies a field of golden flowers that bloom only once a year and a solitary raven singing, “nobody knows my pain.” And on the banks of a lazy river, gods become real and graves disappear in peals of laughter.

Inevitably the lane becomes a paved road, leading into a town beside a deep blue sound where the waves roll to the beach and cottages crowd the edges of the sand. Shops line the boardwalk and on the pier, as evening falls, fishermen reel in the lines of their contentment. Across the main drag, behind the restaurants, tourist traps and calories-on-demand convenience stores attached to gas pumps, are the ramshackle neighborhoods of the inhabitants. Children, in the light of make believe, collect treasures that lay bare their gifts within, to shape the approaching night into an adventure of some renown. And in this holy spirit, the girl in the yellow dress emerges and dances with her shadow until the sun goes down.

She walks out onto the porch, her head held high. Her long hair flows around her face and in her glance is the whisper of a sigh. We pause to watch her, seeking to hear the song she holds in her heart. The girl in the yellow dress dances with her shadow, with her hands lifted to the sky. She slowly descends the stairs, crosses the yard, and walks toward the empty wall of the local bar. She stops for just a moment as she notices we are watching from our passing car, the sun setting behind her casting her shadow deep, so near yet so far. The girl in the yellow dress dances with her shadow, calling forth the first star.

She stops to take the measure, then sweep her arms from side to side. Her shadow matching her every movement, reflecting in every way. Her feet barely touch the ground as her body begins to gently sway. Around and around she spins, gathering in the last light of the day. The girl in the yellow dress dances, for this is how she prays. She bows low until her fingers caress the waiting ground, as on and on she twirls into each pirouette, while singing not a sound. Her eyes are closed for she has disappeared from this town; gone far beyond this place. The girl in the yellow dress dances with her shadow, summoning all who see her to a shattered grace.

Her shadow grows longer as sunset makes the day complete. She dances all alone while her shadow finds the beat. She alone can hear the music, and she alone makes it sweet. The sky glows gold and purple, where hope and promise meet. The girl in the yellow dress dances with her shadow, then in the dusk makes her retreat.

Imagining the blessing that we can each become…while dancing with our shadows.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with gratitude and hope.

Words are magic and writers are wizards.