The day ends; exhausted and depleted I find my way home, walking empty streets in the winter twilight. Long shadows of trees cross my path as I walk past the park, eerie and flickering as the winter wind sways their lanky limbs. They are tugging at my insides, pulling and reaching for bits of my soul and all I can think about is how much I would like to give myself up to these greedy tree spirits, to be pulled apart by the branches of devouring elms.
I'm pulled out of my reverie by a hushed tune coming through the trees, from a deeper part of the park. It is indistinct, the kind of melody that finds me only every second bar and I'm left wondering whether or not I'm really hearing it at all. It gets louder the further I walk along the path and I find myself following it, being pulled further into the park, all tiredness forgotten in the face of curiosity. As it becomes more clear, the tinny tinkling reminds me of carnivals, of clowns and magic and bright flashing lights.
It gets darker as I'm walking, the sun going down a little further with each step, the trees seeming to grow taller as the light disappears. Yet still I see flickering orange light casting shadows on the ground, getting brighter as the music gets louder. Through the trees I can see something moving, a spinning mass of colour and as the gaps between the trees widen to form a clearing, I find a lonely carousel turning and turning in the darkness.
The carousel goes around and around, lights spinning and luminescent in the darkness. The life-sized carousel animals have thin white coats, sparse layers of snow hiding the brilliance of winter. The lion is raised on its hind legs, as though preparing to strike. A rainbow-striped zebra looks out through long snow-sparkled lashes, bashful and curious. A yellow oriole, posed as if in the midst of a song, wears a snowy mantle of frost, looking regal as the snowflakes catch the glare of electric lights and sparkle like thousands of tiny jewels. Most beautiful of all, an ornately-decorated gazelle leaps with a bounty of joy, going up and down as the carousel turns, amethyst eyes reflecting the stars as they begin to come out. Without a doubt I know that of all the beautiful creatures on this mystery carousel, the yellow oriole is the one I would choose to ride. It is caught in rapture, in the beauty of creation, and its nearly-audible song sings in harmony with something delicately held within my heart.
I do not ride the carousel, cannot bring myself to disturb the tranquility of its solitary rotations. An instinct tells me that it is caught in a world of its own and I know that climbing on the back of my beautiful oriole would lead me into a world I could not come back from, a twinkling universe of madness and movement. I ride it with my eyes, memorize the patterns of colour and light that create it and I know that I will return to it in dreams and ride the yellow oriole into a galaxy not reachable in the conscious realm.