Iowa Writes

BONNIE J. ROUGH
from “The Birdmen”


The dream that repeated the most for me was very simple. The landscape was always the same: a long, hot, blue sky, with a red-brown cliff superimposed. Sometimes a huge brown bird screamed in the sky, distant. I saw myself standing on the edge of the cliff. Small me, a person I recognized from the mirror. A little kid in pink corduroy pants and a purple zip-up sweatshirt. And my arms spread open, as if I expected to glide. Slowly, tilting forward, with a strange grace coupled with enormous, silent terror, my toes tipped down, and I felt myself plunging through the thin blue. Like most kids, I always woke up mid-plummet. And I felt some distance from the girl, even though I knew she was me. My consciousness was mostly outside of her; I watched her fall.

The dream that repeated the most for me was very simple. The landscape was always the same: a long, hot, blue sky, with a red-brown cliff superimposed. Sometimes a huge brown bird screamed in the sky, distant. I saw myself standing on the edge of the cliff. Small me, a person I recognized from the mirror. A little kid in pink corduroy pants and a purple zip-up sweatshirt. And my arms spread open, as if I expected to glide. Slowly, tilting forward, with a strange grace coupled with enormous, silent terror, my toes tipped down, and I felt myself plunging through the thin blue. Like most kids, I always woke up mid-plummet. And I felt some distance from the girl, even though I knew she was me. My consciousness was mostly outside of her; I watched her fall.

When I was an older child, I dreamed that I flew in a golden hot-air balloon. The balloon was just large enough to carry me. It floated me around my parents’ kitchen, out onto the back deck where I could see in the sunlight my balloon’s metallic richness, its depth and promise, its mythic power. I believed I was leaving the back yard, leaving the neighborhood, to rise up and away, over the poplar-tree spears and the peacock farms and into the northern hills. But suddenly, I was in my parents’ garage, where the big doors were down, the lights were off, and only a little dusty sun came through dirty windows. My gold balloon bumped against the rafters....

In my late twenties I dreamed of a library full of lions, ancient maps, fantasy and myths. Thick red velvet curtains flanked tall, cathedral windows, and amber light illuminated endless mahogany bookshelves. Though the library seemed to have a ceiling, it was impossibly high. There creaked and flapped all of the old flying machines: ghastly kites and child’s-toy airscrews from ancient China; Foolish King Kavus with eagles tied to his throne; the Machine novae, Fausto Veranzio’s 17th-century cone-shaped parachute; Léonardo DaVinci’s ornithopter with a pedaling man beneath its propeller; Francesco Lana’s flying galleon, equipped with oars and sails; Samuel Langley’s goliath aerodrome; and, drifting tranquilly, my gold balloon.

more

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


BONNIE J. ROUGH

Bonnie J. Rough received her MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. She lives in Minneapolis. Her essay “The Birdmen” was published in the Winter 2006-07 issue of The Iowa Review.

This page was first displayed
on January 12, 2007

Find us on Facebook