She harboured a dream

She harboured a dream. Steered it in from the wild winds that whipped up the edges of her soul, threw a line to the seething sea and caught it, this insistent whispering that billowed her sails. She caught it and steered it toward land, to the place where forests fall to shore, and there she found a rocky outcrop, no more than defiant little chin of land thrust out to the shifting seas but enough to shelter a bright tatter of dream. She laid it in the rock pool where it bobbed and drifted from edge to edge before settling, finally, in the corner where the softest sea breeze had blown it.

The dream waited there through time and tide. Wailing winds and white waves crashed over its head but left it an untouched thing, substantial enough to survive but not of a weight that could be tossed and lashed and lost.

Sometimes a child would find its sparkle, catch its salty out-breath and for a moment, wonder, as it seeped inside his blood and caught alight in a new game, a cartwheel on the sand or a tideline dance.

Always she would come, sometimes every day for a week, sometimes not for a month or three. Rarely longer. She’d come down the rocky steps through the trees to the beach, there to listen and gaze and breathe. The dream would drift towards her, happy to be netted and carried ashore in her apron, to seed wild children and sing through her spinning wheel, dodge mercurial in the weft and warp of her loom’s heather threads.

She bore it gladly, that bright dreamfish borne of deep lunar saltiness, she carried it through her life and for all I know, still it lives on in her grandchildren’s children and in the few precious things she left behind. Still it glistens and flashes in the rock pool, and one day the wisp that is left will surrender once more to the glad sea.

Inspired by the spellbinding soundscape ‘Nobody’, by Alice Oswald and Joanna MacGregor

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