from the forthcoming Dream Dialectic, The Little Death
The water beckons a challenge to live one’s life. Its cold runs to new depth creating icy patches upon my toes as they dip further into the darkness gesturing towards a sandy bottom covered in the black of night. Thoreau still occupies this space. His poetry flows with the ripples of wind on water. Waves eternal. Words everywhere and everything. Rise up young youth. Your summer swim spot is a place for transcendence. Bathe here and feel your soul purified.
I dream I am alone as I swim across from shore to shore. Each stroke pushing me further out into the open and farther from my friends talking deeply barely noticing my absence. Fear creeps up my neck into my conscious mind as I realize how far I have gone and how far I still have yet to go. Treading water I take a long look around me. Lifeguards watching children splash starbursts into the sky. Families camping underneath the friendly shade of pines. Lovers groping bodies enchanted by the reflection of their kiss in the cool pool. Summer wanderers. Avid vacationers. Dream makers.
My body drags underneath a passing wave. Around me the sun spirals into bands of light broken by the dark sheen of the lake top over my head. Submerged breath is cut short and the mind grows cold. Panic fear absolved. The birds no longer chirp where the body lays. Silence falls except for the beating of my own heart at the back of my eardrum. And the mind turns over a new chord. A oneness with both body and soul. The water speaks to me:
Drink deep from the river of your own being and rise up anew. Become the person you tempted yourself to be. All the strength in the world is yours. It only needs a controlled breath and from there the vision becomes clearer.
I resurface and notice not one but two swimmers gradually make their way past me. Their intersection and crossover like two planes in the sky. Trails of motion laying out across the lake as they drift forward in time.
And all around them even greater swimmers taking a stroll through the lake deep. Merry pranksters on afternoon jaunts cooling off from the summer sun. Paths each unique in rhythm. Beaten roads as flexible as the liquid that they were born in. A great network of wonderers lucidly living lakeside.
I take a breath sucking in the warm sun’s heat. The fear of drowning subsiding. The body making the right motion of fingertips cupped into paddles pushing water across the side and out underneath the feet kicking brilliantly like something alive all inside. The mind masters the body and the body masters the earth.
On the opposing shore there is a moment of triumph. Thoreau stands there admiring another walker of the way. His statuette hand outstretched in an expression of open embrace. He takes note of all the fellow lovers of nature who take day trips to his homeland. Natives of Concord and Boston artists and writers lifers and dreamers all drinking deep and breathing big. His smile is in the peace of the land. No one tripping over his grave anytime soon. As his body is now a vast valley of life.