Edgewalker

I am an edge­walk­er. I am some strange amphib­ian in a world of lakes and raised dikes. I cross from one body of water to anoth­er, swim­ming on the sur­face, per­haps por­pois­ing down, though nev­er to the bot­tom. The bot­tom is deep­er than I am will­ing to go. I wan­der always, rest­less to see more. Each lake is new; the thick­ness of the water, it’s con­sis­ten­cy, it’s chill or sun-warmth. I am a con­nois­seur of water, I taste it in my skin, fil­ter out oxy­gen through my gills, feel the var­ied press of it between my webbed toes as I swim.

I move knowl­edge from one lake to the next. It is a func­tion of mov­ing, at the core of my being; I always will move knowl­edge. It flows in and out of me, seek­ing some kind of equal osmot­ic pres­sure. In new lakes it rush­es in, in old lakes it leaks out. In every lake there is some­thing that can eat me, in every lake there is a small gar­den I can tend and eat from. I tend, for a while. Then I move on.

I haul myself out of one lake. Its inhab­i­tants mar­vel at my abil­i­ty to live out­side of the water. I know I am mere­ly crawl­ing where oth­ers can run. I cross to anoth­er, to a new realm with a new king and new laws. The pat­tern remains. In cross­ing from one to anoth­er I car­ry with me some of the old and the sparkle of the new. In some lakes I am king for a while. In some lakes I can bare­ly swim, the water is too slip­pery to sup­port me and I thrash to live, gain­ing the shore and gasp­ing for a while. Per­haps I wade in the shal­lows there for a while, peer­ing into the deep.

Occa­sion­al­ly I fly, in my dreams. I see all the lakes stretch­ing to the hori­zon; there is no end to them, no end to the new. The pat­tern repeats over and over, always slight­ly dif­fer­ent, always the same enough that I am home in any lake, and none.

In some lakes they fight each oth­er. In every lake, they fight each oth­er, strug­gling to see who is the best, who has the best ideas, the best way. They fight, and win, and die, all for the same lake.

Some are like me. I meet them on the high ground. We cross paths like bears in a wood; I see them, they see me. Per­haps we stop and smell for a while, sens­ing the trav­els and tra­vails and vic­to­ries of the oth­er. Then we move on, for bears do not run in packs, and only sel­dom gath­er to dance in a great cir­cle under the moon, silent in ecsta­sy that none oth­er know.

I wish, maybe, to live in just one lake, to know the cast of the bot­tom as a child’s basin and every plant and grain of grav­el and ancient gur­gling of his­to­ry in it, so that no mys­ter­ies remain. Then mys­tery calls me again, and I move to the next. I am an edgewalker.

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