XI. The Liberation of Water
I am swimming in escape.
A tiny, infant snake is biting me. Venomous? Perhaps.
I and my two accomplices are fleeing the house I have always stalked. (It sounds D minor)
This time, we don't know, but my private prey has caught us.
She silently follows -- a far better swimmer than all of us combined.
She is perfect.
I sense her; the snake bites go unnoticed. The pain is as the water.
I turn my head.
Our eyes meet.
Of course she knows it is my D minor which was that car motor in her driveway all these years.
She smiles and goes under.
In an instant she breaks surface and we are face to face.
My two companions, my brother and my wife, see us faintly in the dark, then clearly.
They see us kiss.
My captor tells me she is getting married. She has concerns. What will it cost? I tell her. She is shocked.
We all move out of the reeds, the moss, the lily pads, the roots, the seaweed and onto the beach.
Here is where the supermen shield the revelers from the breakers.
I take my place among them.
We are all welcome in this house.
My wife finds exquisite things to appreciate.
My brother finds people to love him.
I war with the surf and do super deeds.
My new friend and I never part without a hand touch and an "I love you." (For some reason I always think "5-foot-2.")
Her husband and male siblings always set a place for me at the table of their parties.
I am variously a musician, confidante, and superman.
The only consistent thing is that, no matter how fabulous or uncomfortable the visits, the departures never change.
She is the last person I see, and we always express our love.
And we always touch.
I swim among the reeds.
The old ladies and other women toss crowns of fronds into the water and alternately request that I fetch them or wear them.
I find the most precious one and tuck it away in secret, behind their chairs, for myself.
I swim to the place where she caught me.
She is there.
I look to the gnarled grasses along the banks.
I fear that there are real snakes. Large snakes.
Someone must have spawned that baby snake. That baby must have grown. (Or some such fear.)
But this is where she exists. She owns this marsh. She is its keeper.
It is I who came with fear and cowardice.
The memory of those qualities haunt and hurt me.
That is why I need her and her family and her family's friends.
But it is time to leave.
My wife and brother wish to leave. (Do they? I think so, but maybe it is merely my inclination to think for them. Who thinks for me?)
My fingertips are pruned. They touch hers. We bid farewell.
This is why our goodbyes never varied -- because now must be no different.
My emotion floods retroactively into previous adieus, bringing all to equal twain.
In an instant, all is misremembered.
Glass, water. Fragile, strong. (Or strong, fragile?)
(We are all the strong seeking the fragile and the fragile seeking the strong.)
I am standing in a desert, arms raised.
What is that sign you hold high over your head?
"A message between friends."
What does it say?
I hear an ocean in the desert.
I see fire in the sky.
I feel sand on the wind.
Why did you get of the water?
"To make use of my feet."
And do you wish to return?
"I wish to kneel here and cry a river in which to swim away."