Thursday, July 26, 2007

Haunted by Waters

photo by Steve Kye

"But when I am alone in the half light of the canyon all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and memories. And the sounds of the Big Black Foot River and a four count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters."
from Norman Maclean's beautiful book, A River Runs Through It

"My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things - trout as well as eternal salvation - came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy."

"Reverend Maclean: Each one of us today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding."

A River Runs Through It

My friend Steve went fly fishing in Arkansas on a side trip from work. Ever read Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It (1976)? Maybe you saw the film directed by Robert Redford, with a truly boyish Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer, and more very able actors. I highly recommend both. Both gave me a new appreciation of the poetry in wading in water and knowing fish.

There is true beauty in water that runs so cold and clear and strong. Think of it: fingers twisting flies, the whir of the line in air and radiant with light, the dance of light across the river, a silence surrounding and enveloping and carrying all molecules of water and fins with it.

I see a man squatting by the river's edge, smooth stones in his pocket, his cuffed pants wet and long. He is crouching with the weight of a caravan on his back, memories of gaunt-eyed faces peering through windows that rattled. Greek gods people his dreams when he watches running river water, and their every form appears - thunder, lightning, serpent, quail. So much became about ravishing and conquest, the beliefs in fates like a moody wind. Here, the water removes the chaos he associates with air, since he left that burning house so many years ago. Firemen had carried him out, while he called for his sister, Sophie. Her face was black with ash, but he never heard a cough sound so good.

When he thinks of her, he smiles, and those years between disappear, faint as dust. He puts his palms in the water and feels the current against his skin. He closes his eyes and listens: crackling of leaves somewhere, birds chirping, the slight sound of heavy water moving. The stones in his pocket are from that driveway. They've been around.

1 comment:

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