dreamed the Pomi had come to take me home to the
future. In that dream, we were all sleeping outside
in our airlifts and Cales came around to shake each of
us awake to see the austroborealis in the southern
sky. "Look south," he had signed. There was no moon
for this planet, so the shimmering waves of whipped
yellow, scarlet and perishable green over the bulky
shadows of the Dayrings were dramatic. I had hoisted
Tip-top onto my shoulders and climbed the plank
platform the kids had built in the Rigger Tree for a
better look. Jemstone clambered right behind and
curled up in my lap. I rubbed my cheek against
Tip-top's soft gray fur, and the tiny Jemstone wiggled
in the crook of my elbow. Cales and Mops stood close
to each other, leaning on the ronel fence. Mops's
bright red wires wavered into purple and orange in the
The ronel caught the linden-flower scent of our
watching and turned as one on the far side of the
field. From my tree house perch I could see the
massive outlines of individual bodies melt into the
moving flow of one as ronel thundered straight at the
fence, eyes silver and intelligent against their fine
cobalt heads, the inky tracery of pattern on hot skin
scrolling as they ran like a message being told too
fast to read. Cales and Mops didn't flinch; they knew
this ronel trick of old. At the last possible second,
the liquefied ronel spiraled into a cerulean pinwheel,
slowed, shifted into individuals.
"Hey, ronel, hey, ronel," Cales murmured, putting out
a hand for one azure shoulder to lean into. We all
settled together to stare in silence at the rare
lights undulating over the southern skies. When the
great display shook one last
sheet of silken yellow across the horizon and then
faded, we went back to sleep.
When I woke again, I swear it was no dream. The sleek
saucer-and-cup shaped craft sliced delicately across
the pale blue of the ronel pasture. The burnished
gleam of its timeshift paint glowed gold and red as it
settled lightly, lightly on the surface. My heart gave
that unique doublebeat I'd learned was the physicality
of joy. I could see the familiar shapes of the Pomi
beaming out at me from the observation hall that
circled the craft like a transparent necklace joining
the cup and saucer halves. A face like a star with its
five smiling points, the two-light twinkle of a
crescent, the long, triple twist curved bottled shape
with racing neon circuits of welcome--my Pomi, come at
last to take me home to our future.
Everyone woke up then--Cales, Mops, Tip-top and
Jemstone. At first they stood there with their mouths
open, but when they saw me racing across the yard,
flipping horizontal through the slats of the ronel
fence, they were right behind me, these good people
who had taken me in so very long ago.
Only Mops and Cales remembered when I had been left
to their care. Those mares had long ceased haunting
me--those old dreams of purple and bruised pain, of
screaming and having no tongue, of the pursuing
Direwolf who always caught up with me in the end and
took me by the throat. The children, Tip-top and
Jemstone, who ran with us to the glorious returning
Pomi craft, were a new generation who hadn't known I
was different. I never spoke; what of that? It had
always been that way. I never grew older, the eternal
The dear Pomi flung open the light doors, and we all
crowded into the broad, circular observation hall. I
was surrounded by touches, textures, gentle smells and
colors of Pomi greeting, "All in one," they said, "You
are one in all."
"Hey, look!" cried Tip-top, the small and gray furry,
"We're flying now!"
"Lift me up!" Jemstone demanded, crawling halfway up
"Ow!" he said, unhooking her before he suctioned the
back of her neck and lifted her onto the silver
timebar. Then he caught his breath. "There's our house
and the ronels are running after us. Look, Jemstone,
they look like a river of blue."
We all pushed up against the windows and peered out.
The landscape peeled out below us like the fine
veining you see on the back of a Rigger Tree leaf.
Ronel were a thread of sapphire flowing like a liquid
stream across the hills, trying to keep us in sight.
We lifted higher and Wildport Husk shrank to a
circulating yellow light. "Home," I thought, then
pushed the thought away more quickly than it had come.
My home was in the future. The Pomai were my people. I
had meant Wildport Husk to be a storm stop only.
Mops's red wires wavered, signing south to me so that
I saw then the austroborealis come back into view,
limning the unfolding landscape. The Hills of Wildport
Husk rippled up to the dark shapes of the Dayrings.
I turned to Star-Pomi, and I had no need of this soft
tongue that had never worked after the Direwolf killed
it in a mare when it was first new. My heart opened
like a linden-flower, and I said in the high verse of
our language, "How good it is to be going home. Tell
me of our victory, of the future of Pomai, citadel of
my birth and childhood, how it was I was remembered on
this far and distant planet. What message, what song?"
Then the grief came in waves, and there was no other
way to prepare me for the thoughtful, slow reply of
Star-Pomi. "Chil-ra, the bright citadel is fallen to
the ground. Pomai have no longer any shelter, or
oracular laurel tree, or speaking fountain. Even the
vocal stream has ceased to flow. Chil-ra, we have no
future to return to. We have all of now, and we have
only part of the past."
Crescent-Pomi caught hold of my eyes with those twin
gleams so hard that some old understanding passed
through me, shuddering this soft-textured body with a
cold wind. In a moment I had it all, "No!" I cried out
and grasped the silver timebar that ran around the
obhall. I shook it, trying to feel the ultra-violet
pulses of the future that had always run through it,
undulating with familiarity, promise, memory of a
future life, but Crescent-Pomi was right, the speaking
current, like me, could no longer talk. The past
pulses were there in dashes and darts, the way the
green river of recall is said to run. Only the bright
stream of now ran firm and full-bodied, silver and
blue as a longfish beneath my hands.
Neon-Pomi tried to slow the flow of images for my body
differences, but they came like curling paper in a hot
flame, flying up into nothingness, places and names
and memories long ago in a future world, now fresh,
now torched in the image fire, now gone in the ember
wind. Time future sizzled backward to the now, and I
saw the time block that Direwolf had built not so far
from here. No future time, no home to home to. The
soft body that evolved here on Wildport was built to
pull gasping grief inward. How it courses in pain
through the heart and bowels, wrings the mind, and how
the salty tears wet the knees when doubled over on the
floor. This body is meant to cry out, but I could not
cry out the pain of losing all I held future dear.
Pomi did not touch me, for they did not know how my
body would curl and shake, double into itself, but our
grief flowed into one. They gave me anxious gleams and
textures, the scent of sandalwood.
It was Mops who turned away from the window and ran to
kneel by me. "Chil-ra," she said laying her thousand
red wires on my shoulder, "What is it?" These people
have their own intuitions, their ancient ways of
knowing even shifted shape anomalies like me. Cales
and Mops had picked me up years ago out of the ronel
pasture, no questions asked after it was clear I could
not answer, and they took me into their own
river-burrow in the Wildport called Husk.
Arrows of pain darted through my abdomen as I uncurled
myself. Mops suctioned me under one green patterned
arm and helped me to my feet. My knuckles felt old
although they could not age as I signed to her that
all was lost. The future, I said, was gone, these the
last of the Pomi, and they adrift like space
vagabonds, they who were always so heartbound to the
hills and suns of Pomai. Her red wires quivered,
puzzled. "Cales, Tip-top, Jemstone, come over here. We
need to have a council."
There we were, high over the Dayrings, having a
council with the Pomi. It seemed strange as a dream to
have these two parts of my life meet each other, seek
for a way to speak, discuss a problem for its best
solution. Many times had I sat in just such a council
ring in Wildport Husk, thinking together with the
townfolk how best to rotate a crop, rig a weir, solve
a funny love triangle. Now, as then, Cales and Mops
and I signed back and forth like crazy, only this time
I was interpreting from my own heart-language into the
logics of theirs.
Finally, they seemed to grasp the problem, and Mops,
as usual, had the solution, "Come back to Wildport
Husk with us, " she said, pragmatic, then turned to
the Pomi, "and what of you, good folk? Can you not
stay with us?"
Pomi-lights quivered in confusion. This had not
occurred to any of us, and we had borrowed future
grief of our parting already. I was not a successful
example for Pomi because I was one-light-sun. I had
been able to focus, consolidate, become one among the
many of the Wildport people. Even if voiceless as the
Direwolf gave chase through my mares, I had hands and
I could sign; I had no age, but that had gone
unnoticed. But Pomi was many; my option was not
"Leave me now for a moment," Neon-Pomi said, "For I am
honored and full of thought. Can Pomi live in Wildport
Husk? I must think."
I turned to the window with Mops. Rough Cales held
Tip-top. Tiny Jemstone up on the timebar, toes curled
around it, reached one claw to my shoulder for
balance. The vast Plains of Clock melted over the edge
of a table cliff and disappeared as the craft, silent
and sleek slipped through the night. We ran all the
way to the waterfields before I noticed a curving back
of our trajectory. The stars blurred, the colors of
the austroborealis smeared, the green phosphorus of
the waterfield crackled beneath us as we curved, and I
knew some return had been plotted in the map room
Pomi came among us. Tip-top squealed as he was lifted
up to the tip of Crescent-Pomi, and Jemstone continued
balanced on the timerail, held now in delicate place
by the out-points of Star-Pomi.
"We are no more than time tramps now, " Neon-Pomi
touched to me, "and that will not do for who we are,
what we have loved. Pomi will come to Wildport Husk
with you and make a form, a place, a story, a history
"What have you chosen? What will you be?" I cried in
my own way, the emotion of homefolk big in my chest.
My Pomi now are the running blue ronel. I go to the
fence and call them by name. "Star. Crescent. Neon."
They rub their great, silent heads against me, closing
their liquid eyes in pleasure, and we speak in the old
way, heart-to-heart, as Pomi have always talked.
Jemstone and Tip-top grew and their children and their
children's children came to my unchanging care. Each
learned to ride the blue ronel, to care for the lovely
beasts, to learn the lessons they would need to take
us into this very particular future, this very local
Wildport Husk future, no other.
In my dream the blue ronel run in a singular turquoise
stream. I am astride in my permeable, soft flesh, low,
cheek to hot Neon-blue flesh, and now, only tonight,
only in this place. They are my tongue, and we speak
Sandra M. Jensen is a three time
Teacher-of-the-Year who specializes in teaching poetry
and other forms of creative writing at the community
college level. She has published poetry for thirty
years and has won many local awards, including the
OCTE Teachers as Writers Competition, 1st Place; OSPA
NW Sonnet; OCTE Prose Poem, and others. Upcoming in print:
"No Face" and "Primer Poema" in the Spring 2005
Community College Moment, and "Home After Dark,"
Summer 2005 Pilgrimage Magazine. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.
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story copyright by author 2005 all rights reserved