Dear August Journey,
Things have become rather difficult on your behalf now. The quarter moon has gently risen from above freshly-planted cornflower fields, and the way it illuminated the stalk of wheat stuck in between your taut scowl somehow reminded me of a vagrant angel I once saw in passing; perhaps in my most violent fever dreams, perhaps in the periphery of a forgotten childhood memory. Though, pray was I wrong about my prior assumptions?
I see that the jingling change in your pockets has been growing lighter with every dead-end town you pass by; your phantom presence barely rustles past rickety wooden establishments and suspicious-eyed locals like lost tumbleweeds and chasing dust by your worn-out rawhide boots, as you search for something that adamantly refuses to be found. The other shoe has dropped, all your horses have long-ago died of exhaustion when the heat rang high and clean water was scarce, and what you wouldn’t have given God’s mercy for just a little more time. But, isn’t that what you were running away from in the first place?
Your lover’s hands have slowly become loveless and the cobweb cracks are beginning to rapidly spread beyond your glazed eyes onto your craggy cheeks; and when you point your rusty revolver at an awaiting glass bottle, you always seem to target tattered fences and yonder valleys instead of hitting the mark dead-on, like you once always used to. And you grieve—oh, how much I have seen you grieve—but that’s just life. The prowling wolves have not ran for your bones yet; but with the way you refuse to interfere with your intrepid fears, they may as well already have stripped off your aged soul from the very edges of your sunbeaten hat and devoured the rest of you whole with a final triumphant flourish. And you let it be—and you sit on the initials of your name like a half-boiled eulogy—and you simply wait for the end—but won’t you try to shake off the ghosts stowing away and going in circles on your bloodstained coattails?
The ashes of the past shall surely fall, and fall in relentless mayday storms it shall; though it will not dwell any longer than a sluggish summer’s day if you bravely shut your eyes and hold your breath for just a minute…inhale not a speck and you may just come out the other end and weep in relief. The devil may arrive horns akimbo to take us both in our sleep, but please keep faith in me when I tell you that the journey is still far from over. It is embedded in your fate, in your veins, within your very namesake itself. I know your mama taught you from the very beginning to carry yourself ablaze and go out nobly, as rightfully as that may sound—yes indeed, she is your lifegiver, but she is not your sole devotion to life. Now come ye, renegade riders, hold out your pains and set them forth beneath the river of obscure sorrows, where every prayer and worry and promise shall all be washed downstream, away from goldmines and cardboard towns and shaky bodies without nerves—come ye, and hold out to me—hold out for me—
For you are you, August Journey. You are snapping tongues and bloody wit and resisting restlessness, you are the last stubborn leaf on a wilted elm branch still resolutely hanging on amid the very cusp of winter’s solemn death, you are the weary travellers you crossed and the sweetest damsels’ hearts your broke, you are the raucous enemies you peppered with cordite and the allies you shook callused hands with over a quiet pint, you are the mistakes you made peace with and the aimless footsteps you trekked all over your stolen frontier map—you are you and more than you, more than you could ever be. So, what do you say? Ready for one more hell on high water, or will your yellowed sheets hang short on the bedframe tonight?
The canaries chirping their royal codas, and the towering citadels built of crushed diamonds, and the coiling canyons without coal dust and cold nights, they all beckon you on. And I am me, and so must I be. Dear August Journey, I surely wish things would not be difficult for you any longer. The full moon shall rise once again from above unharvested fields and illuminate the crooked dagger’s glint in between your cunning grin; the vagrant angel they spoke of in hushed tones and classic legends is finally coming home. Ride on, August Journey.
Heaven awaits you, and so do I.