Thursday, June 28, 2012

Part Two: On Being Found

Redemption -- the act of deliverance, rescue, atonement for guilt. All usually through the actions of another, you’ve been taught. You can’t save yourself, you remember the preacherman on the pulpit saying, waving one fist in the air, pounding down the other. 

Yet you’ve always been skeptical of this; skeptical, but you’ve always heard your grandmother and your mother singing, too. Loud altos wearing orange collared olive robes -- standing in back, leading the choir.  

But there have been times when you’ve had to, even while still hearing their voices – even when you knew things wouldn’t be completely clear on the other side. When you knew there would be no light. Redemption, rebirth, starting new: they’re all born out of shadows – out of the broken glass that shows you the moon...just like Chekov said. 

Yet you have to try again this time too, because you’re a crumpled mess of doubt and you’ve got to prove something – to yourself and to a body of still-water. To untwist some of your thoughts. Some of them.

The brown trout just get caught up in the mess of working things out. 

Tonight, let’s go back…let’s redeem ourselves, he says – as if there will be rites and blood, and holy water. And in a way there is, you think, threading light cahill to a bobbin, and mallard flank and CDC to a hook. A small hook. You saw what they were doing last night, rising up and out, and back into the water. Like miniature dolphins. The size they appear when you stood on the Golden Gate Bridge, looking down.

Emergers, he’d said, rummaging through his pack.   


And you remember, and it saves you. Him too.

And perhaps, you think, redemption isn’t something that’s given at all; rather...perhaps it’s something created, drafted yourself out of broken pieces and unwanted parts. Perhaps it’s something rediscovered. Or remembered. Like the yellow index cards you keep in books, holding place for when you return.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Part One: On Being Lost

“It’s orchestrated,” he says, rises shooting the surface everywhere but under the fly where he wants them. Where you want them. The epicenter of the universe, a size 20 trico's footprint, the bullseye which seems impossible to hit – here now, where the day’s crescendo has worked since sunup to reach. All of that tension, released into bugs and bites, pimpling the surface worse than an adolescent's face. Pop it, he says. Pop it.

It’s orchestrated. Like a Steve Reich piece -- time signature moving every other measure, keeping you moving, keeping you feeling the beat. Keeping you at attention -- even all the while very confused. Just as you get comfortable, everything changes: the tempo, the key signature…life. Out of time, tune, and so it goes. Taking you along with.

Trying to read, to keep up -- but in the end you can’t. You’re lost. Failing, even with spinners, caddis, midges popping off. The measures move too quickly – and when your eyes get lost, when you finally stop playing, hooking your small para-adams onto the third guide up, the song goes on the same as it always has...always will. Your part can be played over; you aren’t that important… 

…and yet you do matter, somehow -- leaving light footprints, unevenly spaced, close together on the hike out.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


You stand at her base, almost. It’s hard to know where exactly she starts – or ends, for that matter -- being always false first, summit after summit. Buttressed out, you think of her as Notre Dame, even though you’ve never actually seen the cathedral but for aged slides. (Why is it, anyway, that yellowed slides seems closer to reality than glossy feature spreads?) And you remember sitting atop her, being screamed at by a pika and seeing boy scouts on the next ridge practicing mirrored distress signals. You were relieved when you figured out it was only practice.

Because you had nothing to help, to offer. No rope. No crampons or pitons. Only Advil, and scissors, gauze and Ace bandages…the kind you played with as a kid, securing all the maladies of Siberian Husky and Fievel stuffed animals. You were alone that day, as you always were then – there, up top. You went as far away as you could without disappearing. Close to the edge, yet something brought you back. Maybe in the end it was the mountains themselves.
She rumbles -- a gigantic stomach, coming to eat you up. If she could move, you know she would. But those buttresses get in the way, tripping her up like a woman’s petticoat and hoop-skirt -- anchoring her down in the talus rubble of ages. And you understand, right then, why cultures have found their gods on high – you understand why they have sacrificed and been terrified and worshiped themselves into submission.
You understand why they have imposed sentience. Raising your eyes for a second, away from your line on the water, and rise forms beginning -- streaky white veils her with rain and for a few moments, she cannot see.

And you’re safe. 
And you find something up here too – an unknown something before which to stand in awe, and something that makes your stomach drop with the heat of fear – crawling over your back and up to the hairs at the base of your skull…the ones that always stay short and tangled.

You find something here -- even, to hate.

And only here do you find bits of truth -- treasured small polka dotted torpedoes she keeps hidden, like Gimli’s treasure hoard. Perhaps that’s why she’s so angry. But you put them back, the few you caught. And quickly, too, after you’d held their cold bodies, their beating heart. After you’d looked directly into their strange eyes and wondered what you looked like to them. Knowing that you weren’t nearly so beautiful to them as they to you…asking pardon for what you’ve just done.

The wind blows harder and harder until it rains. And the stomach still growls -- as if you’ve done something wrong, as if you’ve trespassed.

But you saw no signs, no warnings -- only, a moose in the willows. And maybe, that was it...