a life or death place

I am walking along a rocky rutted dirt road. My shoes are broken.

I am wearing completely inappropriate shoes, fancy and delicate with narrow sharp heels. I have to take them off. Ridiculous shoes. I am carrying a lot of baggage. I am angry with myself. Why am I carrying so much? I need someplace gentle to put my feet.

Maybe there are snakes in the grass, I don’t know, but the idea makes me nervous. The ground in the grass will be no kinder to my feet than the road, but I have to try something. I set down all the bags and boxes I’ve been carrying. One small cardboard box tips over and a flock of black birds flies out of it.

(Another, which I won’t even mention, releases a very small man with sharp knees and dirty fingernails who skitters away cackling.)

I go off the road, down the green and tangled bank to a spring, the river’s watershed. Moss is what my feet want. The moss is soothing and kind. It works like a key in all my locks. I am undone.

This is a life or death place, a place of utmost importance, a source place, a life place to get to when not getting here means death.

I rest on the bank with my feet in the water. I soak my feet and I drink. It is dark under the trees and very quiet.

In a little while I know I will get onto a boat or raft and let myself drift on the slow dark water, but for now this is what I need. This dappled dark, this fragrant damp. The cool quenching water. The kindness of moss.

Someone leans in, out of the blue, and asks: “Why don’t you write a book? Why do you keep telling yourself you can’t? All this personal story exploration is fine but, eeh. What you want to put yourself into is a book. A good full story. Nothing quite so safe and soothing as a strong story structure.”

There is something in my pocket. I spread the top to let my little frog heart climb out on long cautious legs.

The frog and I get on a raft. We untie the rope and let ourselves drift down stream. I lie on my back and watch the sky through the leaves. I’m almost asleep when I become aware of a chest at the other end of the raft. A small chest that wants to be opened. And so I do.

A creature unfurls out of the impossibly confined space. He has broad sloping shoulders and a broad face and a heavy head of hair, tendrilled in dreads. It seems the heaviness of his hair behind leans his head slightly forward. His arms hang loose at his sides.

There is a wild cool smell about him, like frog maybe. I’ve never met anyone like him. He is so strong I take a step back to the edge of the raft. He looks straight at me. I cannot read anything in his face. He says, “I’ve come for you. Are you ready?”

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