I faced the brushy wilderness. It was wild and beautiful, full of strange colors, scents and sounds. I wanted to explore it all so I hitched up my pack and walked into it.

I hiked for a long time, not rushing. There was no need for the joy was in the path. I examined tiny flowers, wondered at towering cliffs, and stood in awe at the flight of an eagle. Casually, I followed the eagle's path until I came to a low ridge. The sun setting behind it cast a brilliant glow, a bonfire on a grand scale. The next morning I crossed the ridge and stopped.

Before me lay a valley, still and deep. In its center was a large shadowy lake. I made my way down to its banks. The path was rocky and hard to travel. Many vines and shrubs were in the way, pulling at me, tangling my feet. I kept going because the lake was beautiful and I desperately wanted to look more closely at the water. By the time I reached its muddy edge I was exhausted and decided to rest for the night. Dawn woke me with its eerie rays reflecting off the lake's blank surface.

As I sat up taking it all in I wondered at its surface. It seemed smooth as glass, yet I could almost see the tides of life churning beneath it. I felt compelled to touch it, try to feel its deep inner life. When I held my arm over that black water I thought myself some strange animated skeleton, so pale did it appear against that obsidian sheen. When my eyes finally reached into its depths they were trapped there, lost in its mysteries. I hardly noticed my own ghostly reflection in its silky mirror.

I crouched there for an eternity trying to grasp some unnamable thing which teased me with its elusiveness. Finally, stiff and sore, I drew back in frustration, no closer to its secrets than before. As I did so, I looked for my reflection. To my dismay, it was gone, swallowed by the coming dark and that hungry black water.

As I moved back and looked around, I realized that the land around me had changed. I wondered what else there was beyond the ridge, as I had not meant to tarry so long in one place. The more I gazed at the distant land, the more it beckoned. I remembered the beauties encountered so far on this journey and was excited to discover new ones.

The next morning I again took up my pack, leaving the black lake behind me. Its secrets haunted me still as I went on my way. Soon however, I was again eagerly enjoying the path around me and before me. Its power was almost overwhelming when I thought about all the little joys strewn casually about and how, together, they made one great tapestry of sun, shadow, and secrets.

My explorations eventually brought me to a gentle slope. From its top I could see something like a bright sapphire below. I followed the easy slant of the path for a closer look at the distant gem. As I neared the place, another lake gradually revealed itself to me. In contrast to the serene hills around it, this lake glittered brightly as the wind played across its surface. Like facets on a polished stone, its constantly moving water caught the light, reflecting it back with nearly blinding brilliance. I resisted the urge to run to its edge and sat instead partway up the hill. I watched it move, admiring its rippling beauty. It reminded me of laughter and I smiled at the thought.

Eventually, timidly, I crept nearer to the water. The closer I came, the more I saw. It was not now just a brilliant blue, but many hues shifting and blending, daring my eyes to name its color. The soft grass at its banks barely contained its restless waves. I could now see mingled among the swirling eddies, smooth pools, like drifting mirrors reflecting much of the surrounding hills and sky. They invited me to stay and watch and see the land through their windows. As I lay in the damp grass, lulled by the softly lapping water, one of these liquid eyes drifted towards me. I reached for it and started at what I saw. My skin, so deathly pale against the black water of the other lake, took on a golden hue against this startling blue. Cautiously, I leaned over the curious drifting glass. For a shocked second, the blue eye and I became one, both staring at a familiar stranger. I stared at a memory and a dream, seeing past and future combined in a new possibility. The rippling currents carried the calm pool away, but left behind that precious vision. In that moment I wanted to be all that I remembered in the depths of that clear blue pool.

Sonja Torres 1997

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