The water enraptures my body, which feels like forest-shrouded silk
As I clip and clop my awkward way through the water
And then suddenly feel like a dolphin.
The underneath of Walden Pond is riven by rivers of currents birthed from mysterious
As I swim, the current changes from foot to foot,
now alienating cold,
now feathery warm
The currents caress my body like eels that brush their liquid bodies against my chest,
torso, groin, legs,
tingling and tangling all up and down my skin,
shagging me, changing me, freeing me.
I slow down, feel the water like echoes of the past,
Know that Thoreau swam and fished and walked and lived here.
I feel the sensuous caress of history,
of rebellion against the ordinary.
The electric call of infinite Walden seduces me with its sweet and subterranean melody,
Like the trapezer who paints the last act.
I swim past the why current,
Feel the fins of curious fish brushing me.
None knows really how deep Walden is,
Or what the source of the pond is.
It was born eons ago in the distant primordial past of the past of the earth,
Born in the majestic ruptures of the earth,
Born in the thousand-yard-deep chaos of water and stars,
Lifeless at first, then slowly emerging in the slow movement of unforgiving atoms and
And meandering, sensuous being.
Christopher Johnson is a writer based in the Chicago area. He was a merchant seaman, a high school English teacher, a corporate communications writer, a textbook editor, an educational consultant, and a free-lance writer. Published short stories, articles, and essays in The Progressive, Snowy Egret, Earth Island Journal, Chicago Wilderness, American Forests, Chicago Life, Across the Margin, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Blue Lake Review, The Literary Yard, Scarlet Leaf Review, Spillwords Press, Fiction on the Web, Sweet Tree Review, and other journals and magazines. In 2006, the University of New Hampshire Press published my his book, This Grand and Magnificent Place: The Wilderness Heritage of the White Mountains. His second book, which he co-authored with a prominent New Hampshire forester named David Govatski, was Forests for the People: The Story of America’s Eastern National Forests, published by Island Press in 2013.