Gracing Along the Edge of Reality

After reading A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and the last part of On the Road.


Photo: © Blaine Stiger –

That sense that here I am touching more than myself, but, fantastically, and with dumb luck, I have stumbled toward the top of a ravine where the bottom that I can see below me reflects something more than schist and feldspar.  I step over the edge and immediately I am falling what looks like a very long distance, enough to kill me. Momentarily, an image starts to go through my mind of my sweet lost mangled body crumpled into two or three fissures in the rock, bloody, limp, gone. Then, wham, I hit. And everything’s okay. Very quickly, I wonder if I was just flying.

Lightly, with the floppy thud of a large eraser in the shape of a man, I hit a soft, flat spot that I couldn’t quite see looking down. It’s dusty for a moment and maybe I cough once or twice. But the air is pure and unnaturally rarefied here and I hear a choir of spiraling sound.  Something sweet swims through my mind like summer morning smells — the small pleasure of working with the window open for the first time that year. Memory can be such a candy in moments like this.

I go along with it all, sort of exploring because, well, here I am, at the bottom, having fallen.  Looking up it seems a long way back to the top, though the sky does not seem any further away than usual.  I understand that it can’t be very far back up, but still, it looks a half-day hike, at least, up along the cliff walls.  It is possible to make out lines that look like trails crisscrossing against the granite and stubby trees and brush.  There seem as well many trailheads down here — many to choose from.

I look amongst the outcropped rocks and find strange pools of water in deep hidden places far from the sun, shaded by the immense blackness of jutting feldspar.  The pools shimmer, yet there really isn’t a sun to speak of that touches them.

On closer examination, this shimmering water reflects different views of this fissure into which I’ve fallen, or maybe its separate angular reflections of the ravine and its walls and rock and tree. It’s hard to tell. The outcroppings are everywhere and when I find the sixth or seventh pool oddly reflecting light and images where only shadow and darkness should be, I put my hand into that water and find it passing through nothing — space becomes this gauzy, light, pure confection.

My hand moves from the rock shadows into the light of this one pool of many and I feel the sensation of wind on my face and the heat of sun on my neck.  I see that the pools are fissures or cracks, openings into new worlds and new realities.  The funny thing is that none of these fissures is large enough to get through.  In some a hand can fit, others a leg, a face, but never the full head — certainly not the whole body. At best, you can just look into those worlds, and be amazed that they are there.

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