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Boatsman On The River Styx


I am in a shallow boat running low. The oars stroke rhythmically, consistently, no deviation in time or speed, tick tock mind the clock.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

Tick. Push the arms forward. Tock. Drop the blades in the water. Wind the clock. Tick. Pull using all the muscles in the back and arms and legs. Tock. Raise the dripping blades out of the fetid water. Glide forward.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

I look into the eyes of the boatsman seeking to know the essence of the being who, for a coin, accepts the thankless chore of ferrying souls between the land of the living and the world of the dead.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

The boatsman’s eyes are a black mercury mirror. I am him. He is me. We are the each other. I am my own boatsman. Am I alive? Am I dead. Alive or dead? Dead and alive?

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

My future is on the jagged red horizon. My Hades. My Eden. Hades-Eden. Eden-Hades. Haden. Edes. Heaven and Hell.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

Ten thousand dust sweating, muscle screaming, hand blistering strokes. The shore is no closer. No further. I glide equidistant between Sun and Moon.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

It’s been 37 black moons since I last set foot in red Eden, last felt Hade’s soul caress me with a sensuous tongue kiss during a full moon.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

Thirty-two years ago I discovered my desiccated umbilicus on a bare mesa of red-rocked earth in a desolate desert while standing naked experiencing first dawn.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

Eleven thousand days since my birth during the summer of the year my clock ticked 26 years,. Tick. Tock. And I first suckled sand from the red teat.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

Edes-Haden calls me. Siren piercing all hells keeping me steady coursed by a thread reaching through my ears into my soul pulling me ever forward.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

I have not slept since June 1985. Whenever I close my eyes, the current carries me further from my soul, deeper into an abyss of emptiness.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

I thirst but dare not sip the corrupt river. My anima for a single drop of moisture on my parched lips. I cut my finger to suck a drop of blood but bleed red sand.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

I smash the glass oar. Grab a shard of glass. Plunge it through my ribs directly into my heart then slice both wrists, spill the red.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

I fall backward, the Christ. My hands hang over the bow. Blood red sand pumps into the river. Heartbeat. Splash. Heartbeat. Splash. Swoon.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

A hard-packed silt island has risen from the grains of my red sand blood. I anchor my boat with my heart tendrilled by mummified entrails. My heart drops roots.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

I fall asleep, sleep the sleep of the long dead. Am I dead? Am I alive? Is there a distinction? Would I recognize a difference?

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

I dream. I’m in a boat rowed by a shade. Consistent even strokes. Ten thousand paddle plunges yet never getting closer to yonder shore.

Push, drop, pull, raise, glide.

I look at the boatsman and see he is me. I am he. We are we.

05 Sep 2018

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