Friday, July 24, 2009
The University of Deep Water
Under a vast and cloudless sky, I bent to pick up a nickel and there by its side was a long, dark road. As I approached, the road was shy at first, shrugging its shoulders bashfully, turning away uncertainly just past a grove of trees. It was a beautiful road, smooth and endless, patient, and quiet. I ran my hand over its undulating tar-black back, and it purred, slow and steady and satisfied from somewhere deep within, as if a subway rumbled deep below it. All my life I’d hoped to have something like this, a man’s best friend, a familiar, a kindred spirit, which would travel with me over the ever distant horizon, twisting through towns and cities, wilderness and fields, through storms and bright days, both metaphoric and actual. I could leave the road and it would wait for me. I could close my eyes and picture the distant shores of shadows, or sleep without dreaming, and the road would lie still and patient, stretched out under the comforting nickel of the moon.
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” it said to me one day.
“What? I’m balding? I should phone my mother sometimes? My breath?”
“I’m not your road.”
“What?” I said, not believing.
“I’m a stray. I was half feral. I had a family once. I ran from the cemetery to the mall. Before I congealed, I was a dolphin’s path. The dolphin, a professor of External Medicine at the University of Deep Water.”
“And I,” I said, “was a dream, a wisp of smoke, a pink smudge, a road myself.”
And so, we went on.