Anne M. Smith-Nochasak:
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You called me that day.
The sun was just rising, the mist hovering in the woodlot. Down past the hollow, beyond the road even, from a shallow lake tucked among distant trees, all that way, you called me.
My First Lake rose before me, her special sunrise sweeping the sky above the water, as you sang a song of rain coming.
And because my heart was breaking for those times, I made a plan to mow the lawns, to comment on social media, to catch up on laundry and dust the shelves. Those times are past, I said.
All the while, your song reverberated in my soul and my day hung wasted.
The next day, the Sunday, the longing overpowered me. I gathered kayak and gear, and made my way to the bridge. On previous outings, I had wandered the marshes upriver and found the rapids downriver. Today, though, was for the narrows and the shallow lake beyond, the re-entry to the time of First Lake, my Wasaya time. The waters were a glimmer through the tangle, a promise and a summons.
The rocks were slippery and the banks soft as I worked my way to the lake. You were waiting in the first cove, silent, expectant.
You arched and stood, there in the water, your wings spread wide and fanning, the sun reflecting from your white breast, water droplets glistening. Your silent hymn of praise proclaimed creation holy.
You lowered back into the water and swam beside me.
I looked, and I recognized these shores: this was the place below the landing of Wasaya times, and I felt my lady settle behind me, the way we once explored, her and me, when every moment belonged to us. I felt her lean on my shoulder, as she always did. The years faded, and our time was young again.
You paused, and you turned away. The wind pounded at my back and I slid down the lake, my lady at my shoulder, my life strong. You guarded our journey but did not follow.
Then it was turning time. My lady would always spring to a rock and find the shore now, but suddenly, she was not there. I was alone.
I dipped and pulled. The landmarks did not pass but instead slid farther away. The anger built and all the dark thoughts of my past battered my consciousness. My cheeks burned as the wind swept across them, pushing the anger over my shoulder into the white caps behind. The waves churned, wrestling my anger and drawing it down.
And suddenly, I was in the cove again. You floated beside me as I sought the channel to the narrows. We were companions, here in the sheltered silence, no songs, no words, no anger. We are comrades in arms, aren't we? We share the calm, share the damp scent of rain coming. We know. We are.
I hear the world is ending, and there are so many stories of how it will be then. Here is my story of how it will be. Here is my own secret paradise. I will awaken to a paddle in my hand on a still dawn, your song and your silence with me. Together we will glide the waters, the dogs of my life running the shore, but my lady will rest at my shoulder.
It might not look like this, it might not happen like this, but this feeling, this is the feeling of eternity.
The feeling of being.