I couldn't sleep. I'd been reading from the Complete Works of Walt Whitman I'd borrowed from the library, and I'd had a cup of tea, so it was probably a combination of these factors that kept me awake. Then, Charlie had come home from the bank talking about the war and Grandma had needed my help carying in the tomatos from the garden. Really needed, didn't just cheerfully accept - she seemed to get out of breath so eaasily lately, and I noticed her hand had become so white and fragile as clasped the wire handle in an effort to lift the overflowing bucket. And she'd actually asked Aunt Mary to come and help her with the canning, and there seemed so many new little bottles from the drugstore on her nightstand....
"I loaf and invite my soul...." The poet's words tripped across my imagination, mysterious, romantic, and exciting. I wanted to understand.
Charlie had been out, I think with the sister of one of the other young men who worked at the bank. I'd heard him come home and have a drink in the kitchen below my room. He hadn't stopped at my room as he went to his, and now his moving about was over and his room was dark. Peter had been asleep for hours, as he had to get up at dawn and take care of a paper route. Dad had gone on a fishing trip for a few days, and Grandma's snoring could be heard from the top of the stairs.
I woke up, not having noticed falling asleep, the light still on, the book in my lap. The window in my room was open, and the sound of the peepers outside had grown louder as the house noises quieted. The slight breeze was cool and lifted the edges of the drawn gauze curtains. My little clock ticked three a.m., I was not at all tired. Slowly, I got out of my bed, and went to the window. I breathed deeply the soft summer perfumes and looked into the darkness. At first, I couldn't see the backyard maple, though I heard the sighs of its leaves. As my eyes adjusted, pressed against the screen, I could make out the shadowy figures I knew were trees, the barn, the tractor. Moths drawn to my late light bounced off the screen. The night was thick and I wanted to be a part of it.
I slipped on my shoes, pulled the topmost blanket from my bed and slithered into the hall and downstairs, cringing as the third and sixth step groaned, as they seem to do only after daylight hours. Without light I tiptoed quickly through the kitchen and approached the back door, opening it as gently as possible. As I stepped outside I kicked an empty pail in the darkness, making a dound that reverberated within me in the night stillness. After a moment I closed the door behind me, and called in a whisper to Cass, who had heard me and awakened. She whined as I left her chained. I was going up the hill.
I walked along the edge of the cornfield. The dew wet my ankles and every once and a while a mosquito found my ear. As I got to the end of the cornfield, I croseed into the meadow and began to run. Once I stumbled and my fingers, breaking my fall, touched wet earth. Getting up nervously I began to laugh. I was skipping by the time I reached the hill that bordered the MacDonnells' pastures, flipping the blanket behind me like a cape. I slowed, out of breath, and started up the hill. I could see very little and my legs were assaulted as I run into and through the weeds and brambles that grew on the hill.
At the top of the hill I threw the blanket on the ground and myself uponn it. I lay there, catching my breath, feeling the cool moist of the ground beneath me, then stood up again. I twirled and looked around me. I couldn't see but behing me I knew the woods began. The other way I could see a short view of the valley - my house was dark, but I saw lights outside a few others. The large patches of differing shades of dark I knew were fields planted and not. In the distance I could see a flatter dark where I knew a part of the lake was visible. Suddenly the noise of the peepers grew louder, and I heard a sound in the woods. I was scared, and wondered, for a moment, why I was not in my bed. Then I sat back down, pulling the blanket, slightly wet, about my shoulders. I looked above, at the moonless tapestry of galaxies hovering there, and I began to cry.
"Press close bare-bosom'd night---press close magnetic nourishing night!
Night of south winds---night of the large few stars!
Still nodding night---mad naked summer night...
Far-swooping elbow'd earth---rich apple-blossom'd earth!
Smile, for your lover comes.*