I once worked with a beautiful girl from Africa. She was one of the smartest girls I’ve ever met, as well as stunning. Her long, thin body was punctuated with a round face and happy eyes. Her voice was thick and it was easy to imagine her tongue as a ripened fruit. One day, she spoke to me about her home. I like the way she moved her hands and filled the story with folklore instead of concrete.
Her hometown, she explained, sat between two rivers. The river on the left and the river on the right where the waters ran in opposite directions. If you swam in the river on the left, you would surely drown. The waters would swallow you down and take you away. I knew this to be touched with truth because her eyes widened brightly. If you swam in the river on the right, you would never drown because it would spit you out.
Before you, dear reader, become fond of the river on the right, I must also explain to you what she said next.
Fish from the river on the right was poisonous and would kill you with one bite. Fish from the left river, the drowning river, was safe to eat and could feed your family.
Her hands, with their long fingers, flashed through the air in a little dance. I watched her talk as the details I’d later wish I’d remembered tumbled out of my ear and off of my shoulder. I decided that I needed a story and the story needed water.
When I was little, there was a tiny pond in the woods. I always wanted to make my way there, but I was too afraid for I was little and the bushes were thick and tall. Creatures that walked and writhed watched over it and they were not fond of visitors. It was a good place for a story, I decided.
It is said, mostly by me…only by me, that when you visit this pond and walk clockwise around the edge, life will go on as usual. If you, however, dare to walk counter-clockwise around the edge of the pond, the trees will bear blue fruit in the wrong season. If you eat of the fruit when the frogs are singing, dreams will visit you and give you a new name with sounds you can never pronounce. From then on, the pond will welcome you with tadpoles and cattails that dance in the breeze. (If you make a pie with the fruit, you get pie. Pie is tasty, dear reader. Indeed.)
What is your bit of folklore? Where is your water?