Pond

There’s a pond. It’s not really a pond…it’s a puddle. But it could be a pond.

It’s in the woods, nestled in the shadow of a hill. It’s really just a divot in the dirt that fills up with rainwater and leaves in the Spring and acorns in the Fall and freezes into a tiny ice patch when the air turns cold, fed by no stream and feeding no river. It reflects the tall Oaks and Maples and the dirt path that leads there if you circle around to the uphill side, and sometimes, you can see the footprints of deer in the muddy banks.

It could be as deep as the lakes in Upstate New York, glacier-carved and measureless in places, deep; the locals will warn you against canoeing across, because there are bodies in the depths that will never be found. It would be afraid if it knew of these stories, although it, too, shelters the bodies of insects and frogs and other smaller things in its depths, and they will never be found, either.

It could be deep, but not too deep. It would take shovels. Maybe boys borrowing tools from Dad’s woodshed and sneaking up through the weeds after school, coming home muddy and with blisters on their young hands. It would upset the reflections and maybe it would fill back in after a time and they’d need to come back, to maintain the work. It would be a lot of work for young boys, and they might tire of the effort, leave it in a state of disarray, worse than when they began.

But then, but then, if all went well, perhaps they could divert one of the little artesian streams up above, if they really put their minds to it. It could become a river. A widening would remain, a pool, to be sure, to remember the most important place, where it all began. But then the flow could be too much, overwhelm it, become so much more. It might sweep the whole mountain away, and sweep the pond away, too, because it exists as a gap, a place to be filled, and it could overfill. And then it would be nothing. It would be gone, replaced, and nobody might remember that it had once been just a little puddle–a little pool–content with reflecting.

The pond wouldn’t mind being bigger. It would like it, in fact. But there are so many risks, aren’t there? All that digging, all that churned-up mud, the well-meaning work…well, even in the best case, it would upset things. Stir them. You probably wouldn’t be able to see even a little reflection, not for weeks, maybe even months, and then where would it be? Then it would really be a puddle. A brown, dull, useless mess.

The pond is really just a puddle, but it feels like a pond. At night, it dreams that the wheeling stars reflect on its broad, silent surface, just big enough, just big enough to be seen.

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