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  • Lorraine Johnson

[108] To The Edge

There is a memory of a river—long and deep—remote and isolated but full of the things it is meant to carry—in a place ever swallowed by tropical greens and vines and dirt roads and life beaming from edge to edge. From where it started and it ended, I did not know nor do now. I do recall my mind thought nothing else other than entering and gliding along its mystical flow—with my gallant and precious friend at my side and our trusted guide, and the hope of adventure and maybe, just maybe, even the rapture of love.

I can see us slowly making our way down its majestic way, stopping to jump from a random, swinging rope tied to a colossal tree at the river's edge—its hefty arm hovering over the water in anticipation of giving pleasure to those who pass it by.

We meandered timeless along our day, floating over the shadows cast from the boundless forest. And when dusk was drawing near, we set up camp along the embankment—on a bit of cleared earth that rose upward, slightly, from the river's edge and bottomless depth. And when the true darkness of night appeared, our trusted guide brought us to the edge, and with flashlight in hand, revealed the endless, glowing eyes of eager crocodiles—the lizards of the rivers, the masters at hiding and waiting and an earthly treasure boasting the strongest known bite force of the entire animal kingdom—earning their place since wandering the earth from the time of the dinosaurs.

They were where they were supposed to be.

And I— full of the beauty and irony of the moment—as my mind flooded with a growing fear of the journey home, and the chance fate of my friend and I having naively swung unconcerned into this impressive river's dark depths just hours before.

The year was 1989, and the river flowed across the country of Liberia, somewhere deep in Harper County, in the sweet land of the Grebo people. And I don't remember the conversations that followed or even the voyage back in our trusted dugout canoe, only the rope, the eyes, and the lingering sense of rapture—and the sweet notion of being forever held in the mind of another.


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