Ouroboros

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September 23, 2021 by The Citron Review

eat the tail to start again

by Kaidi Stroud

 

What I am about to tell you may sound like myth. It has no beginning, no end. Just different stages. Forms. Iterations. But everything I say is true. Everything you see is true. It is true, also, the word “true” is problematic. Verdad. Kweli. Sahih.

True. True. True.

There is space between us where truth flits and reality slips. Even silence — listen — groans with the shift.

And thus our story begins in paradox; our story begins in water.

 

Hoodoos

Millions of years ago, the part of Utah now known as Bryce Canyon was covered by the sea. As water came and went, sediments were deposited in colorful layers of purple, lime, and red. The result was sculpted rock formations.

These formations live up to their name, the Hoodoos. Rounding curves and ducking through free-standing archways, one half expects to come face to face with rock dwellers who, with the wave of long, spindly fingers, might beckon curious visitors toward secret lairs of their architectural design.

Perched 5,785 feet high atop one of these rocky landings, a casual climber can eat a package of peanut butter crackers and dangle feet over a ledge. This landing holds sightseers atop a hoodoo world. On such solid surface, it is hard to admit that rock portends a false sense of permanence.

From the bottom of this red rock garden, surrounded by spires of precariously balanced boulders, a visitor senses this once-in-a-lifetime-view. Water created hoodoo landscapes; it also continues to change it. Snow and ice in winter expand in the cracks and crevices, forcing breaks. Spring thaw heaves rocks into surprising new shapes. Walking under impossible overhangs, hikers hold their breath and pat rocks as if willing them to stay.

Silent and stealthy, the force behind this awe-inspiring landscape may seem gentle and meek: a trickle, a puddle, a drip.

Hoodoos stand warning; water shapes the thing that holds it.

 

Permutations

I.
Snow orchestrates 
peculiar quiet

white, crystalline 
snowscapes invite

urges to snow-angel, 
make tracks, carve initials;

lay down in an “x,” 

mark your spot —

it won’t be permanent.

A cheek pressed to snow, 
melts a dazzling,

breath-warm den: 
your face

imprinted in its 
own snow grave.

 

II.
Long-distance runners 
warn about drinking

too much water.
It drowns the body

from inside out.
Cells swell.

Hyponatremia.
Thirst.

For life forms, 
balance of

salt and water 
is tenuous.

Two hydrogens, 
one oxygen.

To drink enough — 
or not

alters
internal design

one way 
or another.

 

III.
in a grassy field, 
fingers interlace

behind a head, 
gaze cast skyward:

cloud- suspended visions — 
a dragon, medusa,

ouroburos’ perfect coil 
is it really there

or is it

 

IV.
what Bob Dylan meant
when Louise held

a fistful of rain
tempting us to defy it?

 

mesophase

 

space                                         between us

              truthdances

                                           see                 don’t

 

silent
                windswept notes
                                                                                               not silent

                not truth             remember
                                                                      time,
waves                     (on youth’s shore)

              drawn to the edge,

                          shoes in hand,
                                       a silvery reflection         in the distance,
                                                                               a circle,         the moon,

shh, shh

 

                          each wave
lapping bare toes
                                      stealing sand
                                  beneath your feet

                                                                       welcoming
                                                                       your weight
you were alone
                                                                                              you weren’t —
                            warm, humid air
                                           droplets on                                            skin
                            inhale
                                           saline scents

                                                         sea foam bubbled
                                                                                    in crooked,
                                                                                                sparkling
                                                                                                             
lines
you still hear the thud of shoes
slipped from fingertips
that first step,
                           a cold shock,
                                                      water to your knees,
                                                                                              your hips,
                                                                        your shirt billowing on the surface
                                                                                            like a strange jellyfish
fully submerged
weightlessly
            free-floating

                                            buoyant

limbs              branches
hair                     sunburst rays

this splendid
memory                                               you became

nothing
                    everything

rocked gently

afloat
the aqueous

                                     solution
a drop
ad infinitum

 

Epecuen

Tides change

True. True. True.

And that is why our story begins in a body of water that translates to Eternal Spring.

Epecuen, Argentina. January 25, 1930. This is the year the villa, nestled next to the last of six lagoons in an endorheic basin, became home to Pablo Novak, and it was Pablo’s father who would lay many of the bricks that built the town. Miles from the ocean, Pablo would ask his father why the waters of the Laguna Epecuen were so salty.

He paused to adjust his hat. Squint into middle distance. “There is no love without pain. No water sin sal.” The answer answered nothing, but Pablo nodded solemnly.

A young Pablo grew up alongside his hometown. As word of therapeutic powers in the laguna’s salty waters spread, the town buzzed with lore and popularity. From the train station, Pablo watched passengers from Buenos Aires deboard arm-in-arm, glitzy and eager to experience the healing properties of mineral rich waters. Likewise, his city boomed with business: the Parque Hotel with its crystal-clear swimming pool, the Coradini bake shop full of sweet breads and cakes. Epecuen had arrived as a vacation destination.

From November to March, Pablo could always find a pretty young girl to dance with at the theater. He lived in perpetual respite, a hazy dreamland of late-night music, rejuvenating soaks, possibility, magic.

When unusually heavy rains came in 1985, dogs and cats inexplicably vanished. When rains didn’t stop after ten days, then twenty, the townspeople finally understood they would need to follow suit.

November 10, 1985 embankment reinforcements broke; water swallowed Epecuen whole, flooding it under depths of ten meters.

The story could end there, under water, but it doesn’t.

After 25 years, silvery-white Epecuen began re-emerging. With it, returned a silvery-white Pablo.

The detritus now includes trees stripped of limbs, spearing into the sky like painted, white skewers. Cement rubble in uneven stacks aside bed frames and tires. Buildings in various degrees of disrepair. All stunningly preserved in a salty white layer. A place forever entombed. Cured like meat.

Yet — the rhythmic, rusty squeak of Pablo’s bike cuts through gusty winds. His tire tracks snake through sand. Chorno, his dog, pants beside him as he pedals his rounds past stairs to nowhere, disrupted tombs, el Matador. A knobby, sun-tanned finger points beyond ruins as he re-envisions the past for visitors.

Pablo is the sole occupant of Epecuen. Stoic in his resolve to bear witness. A tour guide of vestiges.

so

the
slow
drip
drops

head
turns
tail

spin
again

 

Kaidi Stroud is a Boise-based educator and freelance writer. Her work has been published in Lonely Planet, the Idaho Statesman, Idaho Press, The Cabin’s Writers in the Attic, and Idaho Magazine (forthcoming). When she’s not wrangling kids, pets, or words, she enjoys the outdoors, live music, public libraries and good questions.

 

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