A Stream of Light

We were never cliff divers.The rocks were too sharp and the current too uncertain to chance it. Others jumped.

Some even were unharmed.

The light cuts through the water here. Too many trees, too many mountains block sunlight, so all that is bright pools against the cutlines of the rivers.

Hard to look too long into the water. We called it wave blindness, although there were other names for the same thing.

We knew the water was there, could hear it, feel it even against our feet and hands.

But our eyes were blinded, filled full of an endless ring of light.

On those days, it was best to stay off the water, direction, depth, and danger covered by the reflection. On those days were when the divers jumped.

We were never cliff divers.

There’s a moment where you stand on that edge over the water.

Where, when you look down, all the dangers have vanished.

Only the light remains.

When you dive, you dive not into water, but-

Into possibility

Into an endless stream of reflected light

 IMG_1720Sometimes light hides as much as it reveals

Light is an interesting obscuring mechanism and an irresistable drawing force.


I’m fond of playing with light and illusion. If you’d like to see some of my other efforts with it, my fantasy novel,The Guests of Honor, is available here.

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Imaginary Bears

It is impossible to walk through the forests now without meeting them, the imaginary bears.

We know that the real bears are starting to rise and move, shake off a winter’s worth of sluggishness and snow.

But somehow the real bears are never as tangible as the imaginary bears.

Real bears are confined by physics and space and time.

They are not able to be everywhere at once:

In the crack of weakened branches

In the pungent smell of rising skunk cabbage

In the faint shadow at the corner of the eye, reaching out from the tangle of alder

The signs of the real bears only make the imaginary bears more powerful.

Each scar on the tree rises up into an invisible paw, extending backwards into our heads.

We are not afraid of the imaginary bears, not really.

They provide an added edge to the noises, to the experience of breaking through the last of the snow and the leaf litter.

They make us feel that our intrusion is noticed.

They are less frightening than the recognition that we walk on empty pathways.

That our passage is brief and unimportant.

That we exist here only as imaginary noises at the edge of a distant bear’s hearing.

IMG_1628The passage of bears is well-marked

I like being something that a bear might have imagined.


While I don’t have bears, I do have other imaginary animals available in my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, over here.

Flyaways

Before the spring floods, the shoreline is an uneasy sanctuary.

A hundred small birds will float along the currents above the water, so closely packed that they rise and fall as a single being. The larger ones come in smaller numbers, seldom more than a dozen. They announce their presence far more loudly, manage their spaces more aggressively.

None of them remain for more than a day.

We called them flyaways when I was small.

They were going somewhere, but I saw only the smallest part of their journey.

I remembered them most in motion, heading with unerring certainty to somewhere far beyond my known horizons.

I envied them.

I wanted both the horizons and the certainty.

Mostly, I wanted to fly.

To rise up and vanish as small creatures watched in amazement.

The moment when they disappeared made me want.

I feel the same way sometimes when I read a line that sinks deep or an image that takes my breath.

I can see for a moment possibilities greater than any I could chase.

As I close my eyes, I dream of impossible horizons.

 IMG_1735Sometimes small parts of ourselves can still find a way to fly

I like to try to make impossible horizons possible. Sometimes I succeed.


For impossible horizons made possible, you can also see my fantasy novel,The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

 

In Contrast

When I was small, I dreamed of terrible things.

The worlds I entered were often distorted, every object a new source of fear and confusion. Cannibalistic dolls, machines made of bones, people who were patchwork collections of mismatched limbs and organs.

But-

Because everything was awful, my mind dulled and I swept through those universes untouched.

My fear was made less by the unrelenting horror around me.

I read stories sometimes that remind me of those worlds, merciless and unrelenting. And I am left repulsed but detached from the depth of the madness.

In the world outside my head, horror announces itself less obviously, quietly rising beside the moments of joy.

When everything is slick with death and destruction, what loss is there from still more pain?

It is only when we have something to lose that we can truly begin to fear.

My mind showed me shadows and I removed myself, untouched.

It was only when I stood in the light that I learned to fear the darkness.

IMG_1519It is light that provides the shadows their power

Sometimes I still dream terrible things. I am less brave now, I think.


Some of this horror has made its way into my writing. If you would like to see it, my fantasy novel,The Guests of Honor, is available here.

What Falls Away

The fence needs replacing.

Ours is not a climate suited for wood. Yet, like so many scrabbling ants, we raise our structures and see them fall and raise them once again.

I want to write more one day of what I’ve found in the backwoods, of the small, surprising remnants of other lives, other stories.

The rotten shells of old cabins will sometimes return to the earth before a child’s doll or a rusting tin cup, haphazardly wedged under a rock.

Ours is not a climate suited for wood. Yet, nearly every structure here has a skeleton of beams and ridge-poles, their strength slowly being sapped by the forces around them.

I would tell stories I think of those lost towns, now grown over. Of those old mining and logging and fishing villages, whose passage is only marked by a slight rise in the moss where the central buildings stood.

We build over these ghosts beneath our feet, repeating the same failed steps only to be built over ourselves.

I wish I could read more stories with that conscious sense of our repeated history.

I wish I could write more stories that capture the cycling beneath my feet.

The fence is falling and needs to be replaced.

The snow and the sky press down, unchanged.

IMG_7133Our tracks are as ephemeral as our memories

The weight of history weighs heavily on the present.


My own pursuit of both history and cycles can be seen here in my fantasy novel,The Guests of Honor. It is available here.