She Began as a Moment in the Mind of a Soldier

She Began as a Moment in the Mind of a Soldier
by Sarah Messer

as he looked up from the desert with his dog and rifle, thinking of giants. She began as a color held in the eye, face floating over the cats-tongue of war. The soldier could shoot any bird from the sky, any passing thought or raised eyebrow, and send his dog after it. Together they escorted the Red Cross to find heads to fit the headless bodies. Once he lay down in an abandoned hangar and the sky slipped in, mist over his body. This was the doorway. The Army sent him back to our village where he lived alone at the edge of the woods and shot all the leaves off trees, shot the ends off of sentences of anyone who asked about the girl who appeared one day beside him. To herald her coming, the dog collected the fallen leaves in its mouth and placed them under everyone’s pillows. It seemed that the girl had been born on a vast holiday with a body the size of the sky, her perfectly clear eyes watching all centuries. Because she had come from the sky, she could see the future of earth tossed like a ball in a bright doorway. But she liked to go back to the time before her large body, back to the first day the soldier wrapped her in blankets and carried her inside. Each body begins with an intention to save or to love and not harm. Now she is taller than anyone. We lift the roofs off our houses to greet her.

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Sarah Messer is the author of four books, most recently Dress Made of Mice. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.