Story 3: Flow
February 24, 2017 | Joel May
A thousand years from now, a sculptor will be carving circles of humans clasping hands, each hand weathered by the cold. There will not be enough detail to make out the eyes so their exhaustion will be shown in the imbalance of one person being echoed by the imbalance of another. They were holding a vision of water and yet they were parched by the extreme cold and the smoke that billowed around them. It was clear in this circle of men and women that their intensity had forged of all of them one soul that shone to the world, that cried out to each of us to cut through the filing of reports and picking up the kids from practice to just feel something that connected us, that showed that we were alive and that each of us mattered.
I remember water.
She flowed in pure streams, self-directed and shining. She called to us from deep blue, called us to dive in and to explore worlds where species striated by depth so that every meter was a surprise. Children ran to the edges of great bodies of water called oceans and splashed one another as they laughed. Remember how cool the sand was when I buried you in it so that you could feel the pulse of water pounding against your chest, rhythmically erotic? Remember how water flowed through the land and how she lapped graciously at dying cottonwoods and made them want to leaf out one more season?
She was everywhere and we never noticed her. We forgot to speak to water as we might have, asking what she wanted, where she was going. We could feel her pulse running through us as blood, and as blood we felt the billabong and what it was like to gather together in the backlight of the last rays. Now our blood is course and viscous, darkened into oil.
The sculptor continued to carve the circle of feet firmly planted and from the pose each human sought the face of the other for strength. As each chip of stone fell away, feelings that she thought were buried began to consume her.
There was joy and pain simultaneously and it fueled her to chip away more than she thought the stone would bear. As she did, the stone began to echo the resolve from a millennium before, strengthening as more was chipped away. It was as if the stone knew where he was headed and he entreated her to reveal everything. As she did, there was a roar that emerged from the stone and a human cry also to sing louder, to feel the pulse of the gentle lapping, the oceans long since gone.
It broke her heart, really, this feeling. Why would it come now when water was just a memory? Through dark tears she continued to carve until she felt that the piece had a life of its own. As much as possible, she had captured the soul of water in this sandstone sculpture.
She looked out the window at the blackness, at the endless night punctuated by stars and planets. She held each one of the people she had carved and said, “ I am sorry, so sorry, that this is all I can do.” she heard the gentle murmur within her heart and a voice from a very deep place, a trench in an old ocean, saying, “now, let go.”
The sculptor looked lovingly at her piece as oil pooled from her tears onto the floor. She dragged the heavy piece of stone toward the rear of the ship and then moved silently back behind the airlock as the sculpture was released into deep space. The sculpture set its course toward a planet dotted with green to be discovered by humans of another species, well-meaning but not observant.