Without Waterfalls

 

Five minutes of switchbacks, carrying blankets and backpacks and rope, each step knocking

 

toe tips against shoe soles until blood ran from the cuticles.  

 

At the bottom, enclosed by earthen walls, they looked up and out into the inverted bowl of sky.  

 

The waterfall roared womb noises and covered them in mist, hiding them from the judging of

 

eyes and not even the heat of the summer could find them here. 

 

The water fell 

 

down, 

down, 

down, 

 

like Alice,  

 

and staring in awe, their eyes grew big as they grew small.  

 

The men gathered firewood while the women prepared the tea.  

 

They strung a hammock out like a welcome mat, though no one would be welcome

 

save themselves.

 

They took off their stresses and hung them from tree branches, shedding their mores, their hollow

 

second skins. 

 

They buttered their watches and let the tea go warmly to their heads. 

 

Wearing Cheshire smiles, they 

 

disappeared

 

and reemerged 

 

in and out of trees, loosing their long-locked children into the space and time. 

 

The sun slid too soon beyond the brim of the tall rock wall, and they made fire like cavemen.  

 

The flames singed the last loose threads of inhibition and finally they sat, glowing in their naked

 

skins, waiting for their new wings to dry. 

 

 

The next day came with its new light seeping through the leafy canopy, their bodies sleeping long

 

after their eyes had come alive.  

 

They spent a small eternity appreciating shadows, watching the trees breath and the water pulse

 

along the river vein.  

 

They halfheartedly chased minnows.  

 

They made javelins for no reason.  

 

Their inflatable boat ferried them over gentle rapids, and the hammock counted moments like a

 

metronome.  

 

The sun arced along the surface of the sky dome, and the canyon light was magic; the longest

 

dusk.  

 

 

They gathered around the firelight, feeding it tree dandruff and forest litter.  

 

They sat and spoke of many things; of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.  

 

They fed the fire, and in return, the fire kept at bay wolves, and logic.  

 

They stayed awake like children, propping their eyelids open with words until 

 

their mouths, exhausted, gave up the ghost.

 

They woke in the morning despite themselves, folding and packing and leaving no trace.  

 

The voice of the Red Queen echoed down--  

 

"Off with their heads!"  

 

-- as they marched up the steep path, wrapping their stresses round their shoulders and wiping

 

clean their watches.  

 

They heaved themselves and their blankets and backpacks and ropes over the edge and 

 

into the Monday heat, deafened by the silence of a world without waterfalls.

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