May 9, 2013
Even though I don’t know how to swim, I’m in the water, trying, moving my arms and kicking as much as I have the strength to do so. The water is too heavy for my weak legs. Besides, I don’t know how to do this, I remind myself. But, since I’m dreaming, I realize, I can practice safely — impossible to drown. A perfect place to learn!
The bank of the river and the other swimmers are far ahead, but I keep going best I can at my best pace, reminding myself I can’t drown. I push my arms, I wiggle my legs, though by looking at the other swimmers, I know I still kick too slowly. I experiment in the dream water. Finally I reach the bank, triumphant.
* * *
The two warring groups are head to head, glaring at each other, ready to put their weapons into action when the order comes to fight. They look like race horses, nostrils flaring, barely contained at the gate as they wait for the signal.
I stand where the groups are facing each other. On the left, the troops with knives; on the right, bayonets. I fear most for the ones in the first rows, right in front of me; impossible for them to survive — their thin cloth uniforms, naked heads, nothing to protect them but their wits; no place to dodge the knives and spears.
Suddenly, a call for peace from the leader of the bayonets! “We will stop if you will.” Yes, immediate acceptance. The knife holders’ faces break into wide smiles, they cheer, and they want to shake my hand. They gather around and ask me for a souvenir to take home. I search my pockets. “All I have is this hair barrette.” Inadequate, I know, but the best I can do. They take it and move on, disappointed in my meager gift, but ecstatic in their triumphant peace.