Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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What he remembers most about that year is night swimming in a small county lake, but feeling the tips of tree branches against his abdomen—the stark panic at first, before he realized what it was, then the supernatural sense that he was swimming in the sky—a kind of cloud of flesh, weightless, adrift in the dark. The lake had been formed when a new dam was built, flooding old growth forest, and huge oaks still stood upright beneath the water, some reaching so near the surface, that in dryer seasons, their furthermost branches revealed themselves, reaching like the fingers of blackened hands. That night, he had the sensation of being beyond his body, the night sky oceanic, its few stars surrounding him, up and down seeming not so much reversed as irrelevant and impossible to determine. To be so small and yet so sensitive to space, to tremble in the light chill of fluid and damp air. He recalls turning on his back to assure himself, his breaths become deep and rapid, knowing in his heart he was but yards from shore, but understanding, finally, how little that shore meant in the vastness of experience. It was nothing, in fact, it could not be trusted, there was only, against the terror of this freedom, his own will, his own perspective—he could fear it or not, he could bathe in it or drown in it, and though he did not yet know what to do and how to live his life, he knew the choice now, he knew it was a choice, no matter how inconsequential in the realms of history, the consequences were his: he would be lost, he would be found, he would learn this over and over again, he would be many things but never, ever, anyplace but here.  end  

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