Pestles on a Mossy Pounding Stone


Rumor was the other scouts planned to strip us
to our underwear, cover us in molasses,
pour cornflakes over us, pee on us,
and throw us into the swift river
at midnight. Instead, after dark
they lured me far beyond
the campground and ditched me.
No flashlight. No moon. At first,
I inched forward, striving to avoid
holes, rocks, fallen branches. When
I felt hopeless, I listened for the river
and lurched toward its dull roar until
I found the mossy outhouse at the edge
of the campground. Exhausted
by a day of sprinting everywhere, truth
be told, l knew that I would not have lasted
until midnight. Truth be told, I didnít know
that being ditched was my first initiation
until forty years later, when once again
alone in the darkness, I remembered
locating the silent camp and crawling
deep into my sleeping bag, warmed
by breath and body heat--so deep
I wondered for a moment if I might
suffocate while I slept, but I woke
to someone outside the tent wondering
where I was. Ready for a new day,
ecstatic that my worst fears had not
been realized, I was like someone
who could not be hurt for long, who
would always find his way even
on a moonless night. If I could
relive that moment so intensely
that I would experience all without
bitterness or regret, letting go
of whatever does not serve me,
would I be like some eternal child
or god in a perpetual dance?

Open a quiet door.
Open a dark door.