Cypress knees rising

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Go back. Back to the past, where memories rise from the earth like cypress knees. The fodder of your youth thrusting through the soil. Touch it. Smell it. Walk amongst it as one returning home to a life that once was. Can you hear it?

Splashes. Voices bounce off the river surface and roll downstream. Four boys, shirtless, waist deep in water, trying to push each other under. Laughter, as the turtles watch and snakes flee. Someone goes under. Beneath the surface, all is muted. Another world. Blurry. Floating. Unharnessed from gravity. Surreal. Liquidy escape. Ahhhhh. Feels good to the soul.

On land, a makeshift diving board. 2”X10”X16’. Will it break? First one off, the hero. Cannonballs, can openers, feet first, head first, belly flop. You call that a flip? Scary. Biggest splash? Splat! Touched the bottom that time! Up the shore, through the leaves to try again. Ouch! (a holly leaf). Unbridled inventors, we are.

A monorail. Top of that tree to the bottom of that one. Clean across the river. Will it hold? Swim across with cable. Pulley, two-by-four, one half broom handle. Will it hold? Ladder up the tree. Way up! People look small below. Scary. Heart in throat. Death looms. Can’t stop now! Cable secured. Finished. Seems steep. Everyone looking up the ladder. Then at each other. Not me! Solitary soul steps forward. Valiant volunteer. All encourage him. But worry. He ascends. Necks crane upward. All step back, lest splattered by blood. The summit is reached. One hand on handle, one on ladder. Hesitation. To release ladder is total faith. More hesitation. Will it hold? We yell up encouragement, though dare not be the first. He swings from life to potential death, no more ladder, armpits exposed, feet dangling high above the forest floor. Cable sags. Starts rolling. It holds! It holds! Splash! Drops in the river. Our victor swims ashore. Chest expanded. A man he is! Death defeated, we each take our turn. Splash! Splash! Splash! Now we are all men.

Laying on the shore. Catching rays. Palms up. Eyes closed. Sand sticking. Who cares? Ahhhhhhh.

Long walk home. Wet jeans. Brown backs. World conquerors. Sun rays, like swords, split the oak trees to close out another day. Water calms. Quiet seeps in. Light sinks into the soil as darkness assumes her throne. ’Tis done.

There the day is stored, entombed forever, save for those whose memory calls forth its resurrection.