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The Little Town

ISSUE:  Spring 1975

I walk for a long time. These mountains are soft, and
these valleys. Suddenly the skin of a mountain moves,
and it becomes a valley. It’s been raining here. New streams
trickle through underbrush, among blue wildflowers, and
butterflies as blue as the flowers they suck on.

Day after day, I keep walking. I realize that I am looking
for something in particular. One day, I feel ready to find
it. There is a faint sound, like a band playing. Kneeling
down, my eyes close to a tuft of grass, I find a little town,
as small as a pea; so small that the breath of a fern could
blow it over.

In the town, people are having a parade. A band marches.
Fat drummers in blue coats with white sashes bang drums.
Cymbals clang. Trumpets toot. Dogs dance at the roadsides.
Children jump and shout. How the marchers strut, puffing
their chests out!

Then everything stops. Darkness. I lose the town in the
grass. I cannot find it any more, so I lean back and close
my eyes. In order to sleep, I tell myself stories:

“In the town, the children are falling asleep, under quilts
patched from the dresses of their great-grandmothers. Their
beds are soft with the down of geese that honked in these
barnyards a hundred years ago. Dogs roll in their sleep,
remembering slide trombones. The big drum roosts on a
trestle in a barn.”

“In their wide beds, the marchers and strutting tuba play-
ers dream about the old times, when the Emperor’s lieuten-
ants faded like newspapers left under snow, and they were
free, and for the first time ever, danced and paraded in the
streets of the little town.”


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