Pamela Stewart-Cothey
Parable Dreams


At times, mud covers his head — then a glimpse of skin shining. Then mud again. One arm around a tree, I lean to pull him out until he rises wearing a heavy blue wool suit. This husband is very cold. I offer him my clothes, but since he resembles a muddy Frank Bruno they'd never fit.

The next moment we're back in a room with dark red walls, ornate white molding. It must be Baltimore. Suddenly he and three others are on the third floor of a museum and they all get shot. The floor cracks and falls apart.

Our daughter too is in pieces. We give her a small wooden studio with 4 walls to hold her body and soul together. We promise to pay the all the property taxes but how will she commute?

Another man and I walk down a few stone steps towards the river. It's springtime and suddenly, in front of us, a small boy falls hitting his head.

Morning. Three books on the table like talismans: The Mystery of the Blue Train, Ostrickers's The Volcano Sequence, and a bilingual catalog of Robert Wilson's installation 14 Stations. 5 blind red wolves on the cover. Only one wolf has not yet opened her mouth. I'm certain from the expression of the smoothed-over resin she is perusing her mind. Not yet ready to howl or speak.

Suddenly I'm traveling a road through the woods and I see an orange “Workmen -Be-Prepared-To-Stop “ sign. I ride with some crazy State Trooper who drives this car like a motorcycle. Leaning, leaning almost into the gravel pit until we stop hard and I'm back at the red-splashed crime scene with information I don't know how to share.

A Nor'easter has just slipped in. A light weft of snow drifting across. I've been thinking of the green door of St. John's Episcopal Church in Ashfield, MA where I married for the first time 46 years ago. I could go there today.

I park the red Volkswagen beetle, walk to the Charlemont Inn where I hope for coffee and a scone. Each time I am ready to speak up, ask for food it's gone and there's no one who's not busy talking with someone else. Then it's Happy House Hour with little plates of Happy House snacks. I only have my 1 cup of coffee and am afraid to ask permission to eat. At the bar, neighbors talk of a beloved teacher at the high school who doesn't have to change jobs because the weather is so very bad. But I know it's because there's going to be a war.

Snow coats the shingles and slates, laces across the fallen oak leaves but doesn't yet hold to the tallest pines. The red wolf-face is soothing. I am fatter now than all the times I married; I've lived more flesh. My secret ? What to keep, what to throw away.

I page through the catalog, pausing at Station 6 where the Shaker woman, pale with stone-black eyes ,is severely upright. Her steam iron hisses, holy and relentless. Her hand cannot set down the heavy things.

There are no figures of color in the 14 Stations. Just the red wolves and one red hand.

The white clapboard church still has green shutters. Outside, a prayer  garden with a bench and arching trellis for yellow roses come summer. The little St. Francis holds his cupped hands to receive this early snow. Indoors,  the walls are virgin blue, above the crimson carpet. I walked there in my home-sewn white silk dress. I carried, as he wished, Uncle Blount's prayer book. It was a beautiful day that happened far away. Vietnam was hot and faraway.

The 5th wolf moves her mouth into winter's wind. I press my left hand against the wounds and with my right gather up the cold and cleansing snow.