Water Memory

Design by Karela Palazio

On the road that leads away from Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, we spin over a bridge and land at the edge of the forest. I get out to pee, and he follows. He peers past the leafy hickories into the woods, and I follow, snaking a path through the trees. Since love isn’t always forever, we make note of markers to look for on the way back: ash-white boulders and trunks split by lightning. 

I don’t know where we are going and neither does he, though he is far wilier. I pass the time wondering about Jim Thorpe, the man, and why more towns aren’t given full names. 

A voice made of water calls from past the fog. It may be our own voices, waking us from a dream. 

The leaves are slick, broad, and sticky against our clothes and skin. To continue in this darkness, one must be either desperate or disinterested. Or both. So we tread on, like ghosts, keeping the river on our right side. And the mist doesn’t reply either, just keeps falling. 

At the end of the river, there is a waterfall, and a full, plaintive song rushing between the leaves. Quicksilver droplets sink through clouds, into water, and spin back to dust. The air churns and froths. We hold our breaths as if submerged. 

What I remember most about that day: there was life between us like a dog lapping at water. Maybe we fed the dog until it fattened. Now it nips at our heels. 

How do we remember what love will look like when we return to it? Walk backwards.

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