The Summit

File:Mount Pisgah from NC 151, Oct 2016 1.jpg - Wikimedia ...
Mount Pisgah (Wikipedia)

There is a little tunnel of plants leading all the way up almost to the top after passing through the meadow. I always felt like it was the final approach towards the castle, and we were a ragtag group of rebels preparing to sneak in and defeat the usurpers. One of my favorite narratives, and this ties in pretty well with ‘sense of place,’ was the narrative of a place being taken over by an outside invading force, and the people whose home it was taking it back using trickery and their knowledge of the space. (I’m thinking both of Odysseus and of the Star Trek TNG episode where Ferengi take over the Enterprise [and the DS9 episode where the Dominion takes over the space station and the Defiant gets “Honey, I shrunk the kids”d].)

Anyway, mainly I wanted to share this recurring dream I have about the summit. Whenever I think about the summit of Pisgah (and now the biblical / ‘flood’ connotations are becoming apparent to me) I think about a dream wherein I’m on what feels like the summit of the mountain, but it’s rocking back and forth like a sailboat and I’m clinging on to the radio tower, which you’re not supposed to climb. The dream shifts, and I am standing on a boat. 

I can feel every sensory detail of it, even though I’ve really never been on a real ocean-worthy vessel in my life. I can taste the brine on the air and the particulars of the ocean wind in my hair.

Other than the rocking of the waves out of the night, there’s nothing. No crew. No sails. The ship isn’t moving, but it isn’t anchored either. The ship is completely dark, and all I can see are the stars. There is no moon, but I can still see the masts given a skin of starlight like a layer of ice.

I realize then that my grandmother is standing beside me with an arm out testing the wind. Somehow, I know that the wind is coming in warm from the south, and that there isn’t quite as much import on where the wind is going, as on where it’s coming from.

“Where are we?” I ask.

“Given everything? Right where we need to be,” she says

I say something like: “The sky in the sea?”

She says: “They sing their hymns of water and we sing ours of rooted trees and cattle. It might sound dissonant, but it just has to do with the refraction rate. Look—” She points and I peak overboard.

The ocean is viscous black and reflects the sky like a mirror. A perfect, circular mirror so big you can’t even tell it’s a circle, if you didn’t know already. So big it loops around on itself—as big as the universe.

I realize, then, that the ocean is the universe, and grandma and I are looking at it from above. From outside. The sky above our boat, a tawdry reflection of the ocean below, the source of the starlight. Like a small vanity mirror put up too close to the ground.

With this realization also comes the understanding that I cannot breathe the air above the ocean. I feel a thinness in my lungs and I start gasping.

My grandmother points again into the sea, and I see a bright light, like the moon rising up out of the ocean. The water becomes bright light blue, and, rising up out of it, is the figure of a woman who I know somehow to be my sister (I don’t have a sister), glowing like a jellyfish. She reaches out a hand, and I accept.

She pulls me down into the warm, bright water of the world and I take a deep breath; the water is heavier than air, and comforting, she holds my hands in hers and nods her head and we swim down, into the light, towards the mountains.

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