Present Danger, excerpt
A Moment of Clarity

there is always the crossing over of water in what is not a journey. not an
exploration of new lands nor a searching for colonies. the barge slides down
canals softly. the banks level with the water. we sleep on the boat during the day
or remark at windmills. there is red wine and soft cheese but no discovery.
everything previously unseen becomes instantly familiar; land peopled only by
ourselves, our children, old lovers. water constantly calm, lasting in its certain
blueness that is not close to green or red. this purity remarks itself in the wake of
the vessel as it travels. the canals are empty and constantly uncharted yet we
know where we are. where we are going.

you read to me from the book we find in the cabin. stories of strange places
where we have never been. of people we do not remember. at the evening meal
appear trout stuffed with herbs from the fields, a salad of small lettuces which
grow wild along the banks. berries from the hedgerows beyond the grassy fields,
we are delighted with ourselves as foragers, we have not picked these herbs, this
lettuce, these berries. not caught these trout. I take a berry from your mouth into
mine. our smiles catch each other.

the grass along the banks is that certain green. which only happens on this
journey, the grass is neither blue nor yellow the small flowers which occur at
approximate occasions indicate themselves as yellow and white. tell us that
sunlight brings these decorations to us. to enhance us. we have seen them all
before and realize they will return to us again and again.

the motion of the barge on calm water is agreeable to us. we are not alone on this
water, this deck, these canals. we know we may not leave. not walk on the grass.
not make chains out of the flowers however much we may wish to adorn each
other. the inside of the cabin is entirely white. the bed smoothcalmalone as
to furniture. we know we will use it at some time as we have used it before, for
now we sleep on deck chairs outside, drink only red wine and eat soft cheese.
some mornings there is coffee in white bowls steamy with milk. and soft rolls.
butter. marmalade. we never question this.

this crossing of water which is not a journey. these canals. your eyes and hands
for me your most significant parts. there is a child somewhere not on this water.
I hear her laughing at night. or I remember. or dream. you say nothing of her.
you speak only of vintages. of the white caps of the women in Brittany. of soft
cheese. we speak often. in long paragraphs which do not answer each other.
which do not answer each other. you recall another journey unlike this which is
not a journey, you have pictures you say. at home in an album. pictures you say.

our clothing covers us loose and white although we often lie naked in the sun.
brown bodies. white sweaters for evening when the cool dark brings a silence
without the moon. we do not see the moon from these chairs. it is always
hidden. in the water. behind that stand of trees. this water which admits no
reflections. turns dark blue midnight. as does the sky. I think I have bought these
clothes in Egypt. on another river on another voyage. the cotton is softancient
a tender wrapping. we sleep on chairs with blanket stowed by day in a wooden
chest. the air is still the water silent between the lappings against the sides of the
barge. the edges of the canal. we are moving.


Talli Ebin

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