There is a river rushing fast, rushing so fast over the shallows, where blunt, gray stones mount to the surface, that a sound like steady rain fills the air. But there is no rain; only the rush of water. The pale morning deepens into purest blue overhead, and dark green leaves overhang the banks, perfectly still.
In the center, over a deep channel where the surface is unruffled and the current races ineluctably onward, a young man is dipping his two-sided oar. First right, then left, on either side of the light and narrow skiff. His bare shoulders are brown and warm. His dark blond hair is damp. His narrow body bends gently with the oar; his strong, glistening arms do not tire.
Within the young man, little more than a boy, really, are all the days of his past, built one upon the other as bones are built. The culmination; the edifice; the manifestation of love.
Today is the day he was born. His first cry in the world; his mother and father’s joy; his nestling at the breast. There are his first steps, his father’s guitar and the dimpled knees dancing to music.
There is his first haircut, the straight, golden hair at his shoulders as the barber lifts him high up onto the seat and he gazes with a large and serious intensity at his own image, waiting to undergo his transformation.
There he is playing baseball, still between home and third, his fake this way, his fade the other, his rush and his score, too fast to be caught.
Here he is in a tux, grinning and abashed, a girl on the stairs. Here he is in his room at night, sobbing.
Here he is at college, on a field trip. He goes up to the door of a stranger, rings the bell, and explains how he is collecting money for a child with cancer. He has decided to become a doctor. Here he is in his room at night, despairing.
The river runs on and on, and the morning never ends. The boy never tires and the sun never gets too hot. Always there is the lucid sound of water rushing, the cicadas humming, and the twin dip of the oar. All thought has gone and every pain has departed. Here he is together with every one who has loved him at every moment of his life, and the beauty of the world enfolds him. Here he is. I am embracing him.