Bedtime Story

by Maya Jewell Zeller


The forest is a whole house. In this version, the toads raise their
voices and the mosquitoes raise their voices and the coyotes raise
their voices and the owls raise their wings, and the whole thing lifts
off. It’s the child I was. It’s that child I’ve told you about, the one
that runs into the wood for the shade of a tree, of a fern, of a nurse
log, for the shade cast by a cloud beneath a moon. Or there’s a baby
in a basement, in a house, in a wood, beneath a moon. Or it’s a baby
kind of baying. It’s the moon I’m talking about here, the moon with
its rooms and its shelves and its books and its gilt-edged bark and its
baying like a girl in the wood. Have I told you that sometimes I am
like a bird, that sometimes I elevate, that whatever argument I’m
having fades as I rise the way steam rises, or fog, those things that
dissipate, that become the canopy of trees, the branches close then
filtered then distant? It’s like there are three floors. Or a union of
triumvirate leaves. Something cloven. Like a moon orbiting a moon
orbiting a moon. You know that dream I keep telling you, the one
with the rooms and the caverns of stairs, with the birds in the
windows and their silent singing, how they open their mouths? Have
I told you, dear child, that sometimes I am that bird? That the moon
can come right up to your window, right through the cloud, that you
can sing without speaking?




Maya Jewell Zeller is the author of “Yesterday, the Bees” (Floating Bridge Press) and “Rust Fish” (Lost Horse Press). Her essays and poems appear in recent issues of High Desert Journal, Pleiades, Tahoma Literary Review, and the James Franco Review. She lives in Spokane with her husband and two small children, to whom she loves to tell stories. ​