Many people know me as a lover and writer of poetry. Indeed, poetry informs even my prose writing. Thinking about that led me to try something new, prose poetry, a form that rests quite comfortably in the spectrum between conventional prose and conventional poetry. Is it prose? Is it poetry? Well, the answer to both is an unequivocal “yes”. It is prose poetry. It’s been a fun exercise, and so I decided to share some of the results with you. Please feel free to comment on it. Here is the first one that I have been pretty happy with.
I was standing on our porch when he walked out of the forest, slowly, gingerly, almost as if he were walking on thin ice and was afraid of falling through. I thought he’d suddenly run back in, but he didn’t. Instead he came out about a hundred feet and just stood there, on top of the hill, that one, right over there, in the meadow. Waiting? Watching? Afraid? I didn’t know. He was just…there. Then the rain started.
Within seconds he was soaked. Water flowed across him, down his face, draining from his hair and beard, down his shoulders and dripping from his fingers. The hair of his body seemed to direct the flow of water down across his belly and hips and legs to his feet. It seemed as if he was listening for something. A smile seemed to spread over his face when he heard it, whatever “it” was.
He began to dance. First he raised his head to the draining skies, and then he raised his arms, palms upward. He twisted his body first one direction and then the other. He raised his right foot until his thigh was parallel to the ground and, just like that, turned his entire body clockwise, a full circle. I have no idea how he did that, but he did it. Then he lowered his foot and he did the same thing with his left foot, turning counterclockwise.
Suddenly, I heard it, too. I wish I could describe it to you. It was like a drum beat, but it was not that. And it was like a praying flute. But no. That’s not right either. If you can imagine a singing that was also a drum and a flute and a prayer, then maybe you can get a faint sense of what it was. I don’t know where it came form, but it filled me like water fills a jug or light fills the air. I tried to stay where I was, afraid to intrude on his worship, for that is clearly what it was. Worship.
But stillness was impossible. The urge to join him was irresistible. And the moment I gave in, I was suddenly ashamed to be clothed. I needed to be as naked as he was. I knew that whatever worship this was, and I had no idea what it was, it could not be done with my body, my mind, or my soul covered. And so, as he danced, I shed my clothes and walked slowly, in time to that ethereal music and joined his dance.
He knew I would join him, and his smile deepened as soon as he saw me. We spoke no words, but we danced, naked, in that rain, for what must have hours. Or maybe it was just minutes. I have no way of knowing. Because that dance lifted us out of time and space and awareness. All we knew was that music, that dance, and each other.
Eventually, of course, the music faded and the dance stilled. When it was over, we were in full embrace, bodies joined, minds in tune, souls entwined. But we were back in time and space, on top of the hill. We turned away from each other and walked down the hill, he to the forest, me to our porch.
I never saw him again.