Water by Catfish McDaris
The old man approached eighty years with no trepidation. The shadows crept closer challenging the sun. Death was a black widow slinking across its web. Getting into an ancient whaling boat, he pointed the prow west. The oars fit his hands like a woman. As land disappeared, icebergs with seals catching fish and polar bears catching seals floated by. He paid no attention, concentrating on the foggy horizon. The farther the watery path took him the stronger he felt. Gnawing on dried blubber, he tossed chunks to passing seagulls. The sun and wind furrows that plowed his face and surrounded his eyes vanished. His vision became clear and strong. Muscles in his arms, legs, and back bulged with an energy almost forgotten. Where land had once bridged a massive migration only the sea existed. Fifty seven miles across the Bering Sea passed in the blink of an eye. Years dropped from the man like layers of skin on an onion. As he reached the tundra laden shore, his language had been left behind with his old body. A young man leaped from the boat. A red wine strength throbbed throughout him. His journey beckoned him south and west. For many miles he saw nothing. Then he noticed the tracks of wolves, he was no longer alone and yet he felt no fear. Cracking ice from a pond he drank deeply. That night sleeping under a billion diamonds, he knew it would be his last as a man.The wolves content on an easy breakfast bounded down onto the man. His transformation into a caribou took less than a second. Striking out with sharp hooves, it sent several wolves tumbling and howling in pain. The caribou floated up from the ground and flew faster than lightning. It looked down at villages and rivers blurring. The snow topped mountains grew up from the earth toward heaven. A cold rain fell into an orange azure turquoise painted stream. A monolithic temple loomed above everything. Monks in saffron colored robes followed each other in solemn order. Workers drove herds of yaks and goats; some carried woven baskets of fish and cackling poultry. Others bore large bundles of wood tied together on their backs.The caribou deincarnated into a hummingbird and watched the scenes from above. It was tiny enough to escape scrutiny. Flying into an open window in the temple it followed more steps on its preordained path. On an exquisitely carved jade pedestal a golden aura emanated. A gaunt parchment skinned monk opened the ruby and emerald encrusted amphora that exuded almost blinding light. It contained three hairs from Buddha. The hummingbird reached its final metamorphosis, a perfect snowflake. It floated down gently from above and settled glistening on the hairs of Buddha and melted.
Catfish McDaris is a journeyman bricklayer & retired postal worker.