I stand in front of the Wellspring with great chunks of me falling off.
I keep picking up the pieces and trying to stick them back on. It’s distressing and awkward and hopeless. I look to the Wellspring for help.
She smiles, unconcerned, and looks up at the sunlight in the leaves. So I look up too, into the soft shifting green, and just like that all the struggle drops away. I realize that those big chunks of things weren’t parts of me at all. They were never meant to stick. Without them I am so much lighter and more supple. The Wellspring and I grin at each other.
“I’ve come to meet the spirit of July,” I say. “I know it’s the last day. It’s late. I’m late, but I thought maybe today.”
“So call,” the Wellspring says, “and wait and see what comes.”
I call for the spirit of July to come and talk with me. I want to know better how to inhabit this time with its fierce skies and anvil inclinations. I sit and I wait. But sitting primly with my feet tucked under doesn’t seem quite right, so I fling myself down on the ground with my arms akimbo, face to the sky. The right posture makes all the difference.
July materializes out of nowhere in the air above me, or maybe he climbs out of the branches. I can’t say for certain if he was there all along. He is wearing dark clothes, pants and jacket, a little indistinct around the edges. He leans over me grinning, “Want to play a game?” he asks.
I sit up, a little uncertain, a little unnerved by his approach. I look to the Wellspring for council and she smiles and shrugs as if to say, You asked for July, now here he is so you might as well play with him.
“Hide and seek.”
“Ok,” I say, still hesitant. Haven’t I only just found him and now he is going to go off and hide and maybe I won’t find him again.
“No,” he says, “you hide. You hide.”
Oh well, I can do that. Deer man has been teaching me how to blend. I am eager to practice.
I leave July with his eyes closed, counting, and I step into the trees. Then I stop moving and stand still. My skin is sweet as aspen bark. I am rooted in the rocky ground, mingled with my sisters, branches lifted to shiver and sigh among them. The grasses sway and rattle at my knees. A deer steps by without hesitation. I’ve done it. I am perfectly hidden. Sunlight dapples me, my shadow stretches long and longer. I watch it grow, it seems the most exquisite thing. And then I come to recognize that there is a portion of my shadow, that is not me. There is a part of it that’s him, July. He’s standing right beside me and has been all along.
“You’re very good at that,” he says.
“How am I good? You obviously found me right off and I didn’t even know.”
“It’s not a question of me finding you. It was never a question of me finding you. I’ve always known where you are. It was you who needed to find yourself. You needed to get home.”
“And now I am.”
“And now you are. And beautifully so. Let’s dance.”
I step into the invitation of his arms. He rests his hand on the small of my back and holds me to him. He is wearing formal evening wear and I am in a full red skirt embroidered all over with flowers. We are waltzing through the trees.
“There is so much I don’t understand. There are questions I meant to be asking you, but I don’t remember. I don’t know. I don’t understand how this works.”
“Stop talking. Dance.”
There is moonlight in my hair and along the tenderness of my arms. His hand is warm and pressing against my back. The fronts of our bodies do that thing that happens when two separate pieces come together and fit.