the river

So there was a river and the river was long and curved like the tail of the snake who is eating itself and that is how life began. I take Tommy to the river and we stand on the shore waving goodbye to the ashes of his father, who bore him, and beat him, and whom he loved. We are waving goodbye to all the fathers never coming back. Down the river, into the snake's mouth, where we all go and so on and so on time is short yes but that night was oh so long. We sat in silence for seven minutes. I felt myself rise up from my body and look down not into our hotel room by the shore but into my life, as if laid out flat like a map but without signs or spots marked X, more like an ocean of shapes formed by the collision of water and waves, and light making faces and places I would go to and see; and light made bodies I would press my own into and the sound of words like crashing waves. I was seventeen years old. A virgin. From that height I looked out on the expanse of what was to come and smiled. Because it looked good. After seven minutes the alarm brought me back to myself without any details of what I had seen. But I remembered the smile. I still do.

And so but Tommy and I wave goodbye and his father's ashes are carried down the length of the river into the mouth of the snake, whose scales lay out flat like a map and on each is marked the life of every one of us, we who are to be eaten and shed, eaten and shed, from the snake for whom nothing is ever lost so long as there is hunger and the promise of satisfaction. Yes it hurts, but how bright the water shines, how wonderful the sound of all these waves...

No comments: