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Memory System F. Daniel Rzicznek

You carry a bucket of stones on your head, traveling upwards between the green trough of the valley and the blistered mountain above. The weight feels as if it is pushing your neck down into your stomach, and the slope of the path keeps climbing. You walk like this until you reach a gravel road. A sign cautions for deer but all you see is a sagging mule behind a crumbling fence.


In your head a thought settles like a feather from a ruptured pillow, and you remember a scene with your mother and father talking slow and loud in moonlight, how your father saw you peering through the thin curtains that swept in the breeze, how he came and lifted you back into bed. You think that this must have been the moment when memory ignited, the first file in the archive, but you wobble on the uneven path, falling.


You look up into the sun and bring the pail down to find that the stones have turned to water. You sit on the fence and the mule comes over. You set the bucket down and she begins to drink. You let her go until it is empty. The bucket under one arm, you move on, yet feel different, more at ease with the rocks and crags. The walking goes so easy that it seems all you have to do is stand and lift your feet while the earth rolls under, carrying you.