Buffalo Night — A Dream

Why? Why won’t they leave me in peace? The two of them enter the room, talking animatedly, flicking on lights. He crawls into bed beside me, pulls the covers over himself, and falls immediately to sleep; she sits on the bed’s edge, depressing the mattress so I roll toward her. I curl my body in a semi-circle about the woman’s hips and try to reclaim the threads of sleep, but it is beaten back, away as she continues a ceaseless monologue. Cheek pressed to forearm, I blink eyes open, stare over rumpled sheets and coverlet, out the open window.

There’s commotion beyond the glass — a small crowd of people standing, gaping, murmuring. Blue and red lights strobe the night, and a policeman stands outside his vehicle, calling orders that go unheard, unheeded. Most surprising, though, is the buffalo.

I lever myself up on one elbow, legs caught, restricted by the woman’s presence and the bedclothes. Not one buffalo. Three. No, four — a furious mother and her calves. And all those foolish onlookers – pointing, exclaiming, snapping photos, ignoring the officer’s instructions — have come between mother and offspring. Oh, how the furious cow’s hooves churn the earth, how she stamps and snorts and bellows, readying her charge…

I am fully awake now, shaking the sleeping man beside me, interrupting the oblivious woman’s wandering speech, warning both of the buffalo’s imminent charge. Surely, certainly, the aim and speed and force of her trajectory will have her bursting through the bedroom’s wall…

A huge, dark fury, the mother charges toward the house, but veers off, plunging into the night beyond the window’s eye. But one of the calves has passed through the wall as if it were merely a suggestion, a veil. It trots about the room, stricken and bawling. Where before, there was the random threat of harm, the calf’s presence within the house is a veritable invitation.

But the man has arisen from his exhausted slumber to stand at the bed’s foot. Cupping hands about his mouth, he aims his voice at the knob-kneed calf and shouts. Although it should hurt — should burst eardrums as certainly as it rattles the window against its frame and bones within flesh – his shout does neither. It does, however, transport the calf safely back outside to its pacified mother.


“Buffalo Night” — C.Birde, 5/16