07 October 2018

Disappeared (Part 9)

This sudden depressurization of reality into memory supercooled the canister of my soul. The shivers finally faded upon arrival back to Kansas. The memories hung around a little longer.

Rivers flow ever onward regardless of the eyes upon them. Courses reroute by tiny increments never noticed, by small steps after storms to which we have borne quiet witness, by the violence of catastrophes that overwhelm. My river shifted course that day, I witnessed it, but there was no grasp of the aftereffects to come. It continued its flow, but where now was the mouth? Where was the water going, if not to the sea? Underground, that is where. Disappearing into caverns that would not see daylight until their ceilings collapsed due to the hard vacuum of depression in combination with a horrid tragedy and a crushing lie.

The river flowed on in a semblance of normality, in the meantime. Meals were shared, conversations had, vacations taken. The ebb and flow stayed relatively constant. If surfaces were the sole arbiter of happiness, an objective outside observer could be excused for thinking that all was fine. How different things would have been if that were true.

Latent in the blood lay memories of saltwater tides. They coursed through tired veins, occasionally escaping the confines of those tubiform vessels to manifest in fevered dreams of breakers along the strand. It seems no accident that seawater and blood should share salt as a major constituent of their respective makeups. No accident at least for those born within easy reach of the sea. Perhaps it is quantum entanglement of blood and ocean that drove me to search for a replacement amongst the grass and rivers and sky. A brief interlude in a cemetery one sunny morning temporarily conned me into believing a substitute had been found.

I had ventured out to the edges of the Flint Hills in search of actual unspoiled prairie, the remnants of which were a tiny fraction of what used to be. What I found was the Tallgrass Prairie Nature Preserve. On the way there I passed an old Catholic cemetery in Strong City, Kansas. Whispers from the grave sites lilted on the wind blowing through the windows of my car, and I found myself pulling off the highway through the gate announcing St. Anthony’s, straddling a gravel track looping through the site. I stepped out of the car and into a sacred silence disturbed only by the intermittent hum of traffic from Route 177.

Me. Cameras. Tombstones. A sky nearly cloudless held a sun shining white-gold, its warmth tempered by a steady breeze. The silence and starkness cradled me in meditative arms. This may have been the moment when clarity struck, and seawater became tallgrass. The prairie shimmied in the current of the wind. Its colors shimmered back and forth between light green and pale straw. My eyes did not miss the resemblance to breakers and foam. I swooned lightly from the resultant pang of recognition entwined with longing. If I could not have the ocean, I could have the sea of grass.

1 comment:

  1. Reading the text creates a meditative state of being! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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