Friday, May 5, 2006

The lake, my lover

The lake is with me every night like a lover. After daybreak I must leave him, but I know that I will return to him and that he will be waiting.

Like a lover, he is moody, often unfathomable. In the morning he may be calm, mirroring the world exactly as he sees it—bright and cloudless. Or he may feel imaginative, clearly reflecting the shapes the illuminated clouds playfully form and re-form. Sometimes the low-lying clouds try to influence his emotions by casting themselves between him and the sun, which can make him kick up a few choppy waves of impotent protest and frustration. If the clouds leave him alone long enough, he may settle down.

At other times, the clouds and the lake will continue to spar, each forgetting that their conflict started as a game. The clouds gather in mutual support until they block the sun and blacken the sky. The wind, like an annoying younger brother who cannot help but provoke the combatants, joins in the battle, teasing the lake, at first ruffling him, then turning him wild with fury, unsettled and grey. Then the lightning and the thunder and the rains come, and it becomes all-out war. It can last for minutes or for hours.

When it is over the air clears, and the wind exhausts itself, but the lake is slower to stop seething than his foes. After a time, though, his complexion will change from white-capped steel grey to breathtaking blue, and I will know that we are once again all that is in each other's hearts.

I am away for most of these outbursts, which are frightening and beautiful at the same time. I do not understand these tantrums, but they are as much part of my lover as peace and calm and loveliness.

His moods can change in what seems like moments. He may arise cheerful with the sun, but turn gloomy and chill so quickly that I do not notice the transition. At other times, the change is so slow and gradual that its escapes even my observation until it is complete.

I love all of the lake's moods because I feel and understand all of them—the inexplicably happy ones, the playful ones, the torn and confused ones, even the angry ones—but the quietly sad ones most of all.

It is on moonlit nights that I love the lake best. The moon glows across his surface, making a strip of his nakedness glow incandescently and leaving the rest in the mystery of semidarkness. It is then that I feel the coolness of his touch, the influence of his soul over mine.

The moon is a silent witness to our coupling, slow, deep, intense, with a hint of danger. It is exhilarating for me. For him—I cannot be sure, for despite his passion he holds himself and his power in reserve.

Even now I know that the lake and I will someday part. I do not know what will separate us beyond some kind of change in circumstance. I dread the thought and therefore do not think about it very often. Always I am aware of it, in the same way that I am aware that I must die. I do not know when or how, but I understand why. The lake changes, I change, all of life changes. Life is change. Then, finally, there is the end to change that death brings.

The lake is immortal; I am not. But we love where we can and how we may. Is not that the way of all lovers?

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