Excerpt from "From the Dust Returned" by Ray Bradbury

“Are you one of us?”

“Am I one of you, or with you?” the ghastly passenger replied.  “And what are you, or we, or us?  Can it be named?  Is there a shape?  What ambience is there?  Are we kin to autumn rains?  Do we rise in mists from wetland moors?  Do twilight fogs seem similar?  Do we prowl or run or lope?  Are we shadows on a ruined wall?  Are we dusts shaken in sneezes from angel tombstones with broken wings?  Do we hover or fly or writhe in October ectoplasms?  Are we footsteps heard to waken us and bump our skulls on nailed-shut lids?  Are we batwing heartbeats held in claw or hand or teeth?  Do our cousins weave and spell their lives like that creature lassoed to the boy-child’s neck?” He gestured.

Arach unraveled its spinneret in dark silence.

“Do we snug with that?”  Again the gesture.

Mouse vanished in Timothy’s vest.

“Do we move soundless?  There?”

Anuba combed good Timothy’s foot.

“Are we the mirror glimpses unseen but there?  Do we abide in walls as mortuary beetles telling time?  Is the drafting breath upsucked in chimneys our terrible respiration?  When clouds curdle the moon are we such clouds?  When rainspouts speak from gargoyles’ mouths are we those tongueless sounds?  Do we sleep by day and swarm-glide the splendid night?  When autumn trees shower bullions are we that Midas stuff, a leaf-fall that sounds the air in crisp syllables?  What, what, oh what are we?  And who are you, and I, and all surrounding gasps of dead and undead cries?  Ask not for whom the funeral bell tolls.  It tolls for thee and me and all the ghastly terrible who nameless wander in a Marley death of chains.  Do I speak the truth?”

“Oh yes!” exclaimed Father.  “Come in!”


~From the book “From the Dust Returned”


~ by cjt on March 4, 2009.

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