Burning off the fog. egg tempera by daniel ambrose

Burning Off the Fog, egg tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose

Am I dreaming again?  I slip out of bed, pad  through  the living room and quietly pass through the glass doors and across the porch, easing the screen door shut. Now on the deck, down the steps, I’m on the old brick path to the river.

The night air is cool and moist and the sky is clear; an indigo canvas lacquered with stars. Slipping my canoe in the water, I glide gently into the river, dip my oar in the ebony face of the estuary, and scatter the stars.

I am home. Andromeda and Cassiopeia, carry me on! Along the shore, cedars and oaks take no heed. It’s just a man on the water, a middle man, a Paleolithic soul speaking to infinity. Inhale the cool air deep into grateful lungs. It must be about three in the morning. Take the middle of the river, a hint of wood smoke, of autumn, before the middle of the tenth month, in the middle of the night, I was born. I have work to do when daylight comes. I will not sleep until I run the river’s course.

Look ahead now. On that river is the silhouette of a younger man, a form I no longer fathom.

There he is sitting by the open window in his study, listening to the April rain softly falling in the twilight. Remembering how lightly it tapped on the hibiscus outside his window, tap . . . tap . . . tap, while his dog dozed at his feet.

Now is a sleepless man in the middle of the night. The river finds its way without him. He dove in with the stone of faith around his neck, trusting God would take him. Is he so clever now?

Look ahead then. Time moves through our minds like a tidal river dream, it ebbs and flows, but you may only travel one way.  Dream of this, then, in days to come, of long ago kingdoms, dogs and kin.

Nocturnal riddles replace the soothing spring rain. The tide is rising around his door. Navigating the current of his thoughts, he no longer reaps the rivers peace. She said come, come this way.

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