Mack Williams: Dead pond
Warning: Though I often include comic relief, you will find little today.
I previously touched on a little melancholy body of water in Caswell County, a sort of “dead pool”(or rather “dead pond”). This time, I’ll “wade in” further, but fearing water, I won’t attempt swimming (and neither, would I think, an expert swimmer in such brackish-looking liquid).
The late owner’s happy times were once reflected there in the form of grandchildren fishing, swimming, and boating in the pond’s “healthier” days. It’s not contaminated with chemicals, but instead “melancholy.” A massive dead oak stands nearby, filled with multiple clumps of mistletoe, now dead, no room for “hope” there ( humor, but dark) in black contrast to the sky 24/7, not just during sunset’s silhouetting effect.
The pond’s surface is covered with green duckweed in the warmer months, and by that same duckweed, brown and dead during most of the year’s remainder. It seems to purposefully prevent reflection of above, as well as revelation of below. When it does clear, greenish-black water appears.
Although not as deep as great Triassic lakes which formed when the land “stretched apart “millions of years ago, the darkness of this pond’s water makes me think it is as oxygen poor as they. Such “asphyxiated” waters aided in the fossilization of “dead things,” lasting for many years in an almost bacteria-free environment until being “turned to stone.”
Nice-sized catfish were caught there in the past. I now get a mental picture of silty, dead, bottom-ooze punctuated with disarticulated fish bones surviving decomposition.
There may be life there, but I want to imagine it as only microbial, like the best of our hopes for Mars.
Sergei Rachmaninoff composed “The Isle of the Dead.” I sometimes feel this pond is that island’s liquid counterpart. If there can be “ocean of death,” “river of death” (almost ,for Theodore Roosevelt), “lake of death,” or “pool of death” (Saipan, WWII), there can also be “pond of death,” but to carry this subtractive train of thought further down to “puddle of death” would be doing jocular disservice to a serious mood(some humor, much needed before the next paragraph).
To make things worse, this somber little body of water contains a suicide’s ashes, scattered by her mother many years ago. Just now, the strange thought occurs that maybe after long submersion, the suicide’s ashes have gone on to solution, a sort of natural “absolving.”
In that long-abandoned pond floats an untied, long-abandoned boat, worse for wear, not from human use, but that kind of “use” which comes from disuse and abandonment to the elements.
Despite lack of sail, wind power reaches the boat through wind-rippled water on windy days, resulting in its wandering. On days of dead stillness (wind-sock speaking), it becomes “becalmed” like “A painted ship upon a painted ocean” (or “A painted boat upon a painted pond”).
But passing by more than once on one wind-still day, I noticed the boat had moved, maybe taking its cue from something else, behaving like a Quija Board planchette, powered by unseen aquatic “stirrings” from below. Perhaps there is energy in reflection.
I just now imagine the whole of that pond’s surface to be like a photographic orb’s images of the past (open to subjective interpretation, of course). Happy, sad, or pensive looks were perhaps “snapped” there, like that strange, but true occurrence of a man’s image being “snapped” by lightning onto the windowpane glass of the home where he was observing a thunderstorm, his image surviving long after his death.
I recently discovered the age-dilapidated dock has become detached, and just like the boat, now randomly wanders. Sometimes boat and dock meet, but infrequently, and only by chance.
So now, in addition to the pond’s deathly visage, there is feeling of uncertainty, hint of permanent purgatory, and intimation of wandering without destination, as both boat and dock have become “adrift at sea.”