“Make a wish,” my father would say when we passed a hay truck. And I would. My wishes rode the highways of this country, each one borne into the bellies of cows and horses. Back to earth again. When I was older he confided in me that he always wished to see another hay truck, that way he’d be sure to live forever. Now I wonder at that. He has never seemed particularly happy with his life or himself, yet he craves immortality.
Sometimes I get up in the night, too full of everything to sleep it away. Making up, perhaps, for the long years of my life I stumbled through, half asleep at all times. The fact that now, in my wakefulness, I cannot uncouple what is painful from what is pleasurable I take as inevitable, and am grateful to feel anything at all. Even when I can’t sleep because of it.
Last night I got up in your room and stood in the corner near the window where the streetlight filtered through the thin cotton of the curtain, watching you sleep, making wishes in the dark. Like a child I want only what is good and happy and fair. As if rewards are the logical progression of hard work and suffering borne out. Each wish whispered into your room – small bubbles floating out the open window among the singing crickets and neighbors arriving home late. Each wish pretty and real and whole; many more where those came from. Sometime later I slept, my dreams filled with knowledge of the futile, with the necessary, with your eyes up close, saying it all.
Sometimes I see a hay truck and there are so many wishes that rise up out of me at once I am loathe to weigh its flat beds down with them. How can one hay truck carry so much hope: peace, happiness, no pollution, equality of prosperity, true love, that there be enough. I’d be afraid to live forever. The hay truck passes out of sight. I’m moving fast on the freeway. Why only hay trucks? I make a wish on a redwood, on a swathe of wildflowers, on a muddy white horse in a field. I wish on the storm riding in over the hills. I make wishes all the way home.
C. Drengsen, 1999