the we travels
aktan askın

from part I

when we descend from the volcano, we walk into a village built on the banks of a river, with its streets calculated to the exact possibilities of the water, as branches. a women dressed in the heaviest garments of felt, of silk, of bear-coat, of hemp welcomes us holding an anchor in her arms and singing, "this is the anchor i tied around my brother's ankle, this is how i killed him, yes, this is how he died." there behind her, a couple wearing draped hoods walk under the shield of an umbrella, big enough for yet another. we follow them as they walk into town, into the river, onto a houseboat. there on the river there is glam. when the couple walk into the houseboat, it turns blue. the houseboat unleashes itself and we watch it go. there are women harvesting lilies, reaching from under their flat hats with long hooked cues, harvesting one lily at a time and wrapping them in their own leaves. such is their understanding of protection. there are canoes with no one tending them except the river, across which men have stretched string, just to be connected, just to stitch the land. there are boatmen who promise to take you to larger bodies of water, a great adventure. i say we have only to close our eyes and we are on board.

the boatmen prohibit sleeping throughout the journey. we protest, we offer other means of fasting, but the river has its rules and they laugh at us. on the way, we stay close to the shallows. there are mules carrying wood and wicker. there are women who walk the length of the river in their wooden tokyos just for exercise. at night there are eel watchers. we see their lanterns but they see the eels. there are men burning a longing song, its smoke telling them of a snake charmer's secrets, of how he became his snake and how the snake became his charmer. i see a ghost, its face is the drunken master's, but its body too big. we float amongst a herd of men wearing inflated buffalo skins on their chests. the boatmen tell us that they are migrating. i think of great conquerers who ride their horses into the seas. a man, who strongly reminds me of the fellow traveler who gave us bananas outside santa teresa, waves us down from the side of the river, he says he is a porter on a mountain that is only visible at night. the boatmen don't believe him. they find his dialect offensive. it is day time.

part II

"before the boatmen who knew their ways out of rivers and into oceans, there were porters, who time after time ported themselves to the edges of land, possessed by the idea that they could walk, somewhere, as far as their eyes could see. but the oceans defeated them. they stood on the beaches, on the tips of the longest peninsulas, on ice, and dreamt of walking the ocean floor, walking straight into its caves and out the other side. this was nonsense!" one boatman says. there are far stretches of land on each side of the river. it is hard not to think that this all was once an ocean floor and what's left of the water is the river. there are days the sun rises from one side and sets in the other, and there are days it sets at the end of the river. that's when the boatmen bring the wine. the wine swells our faces and they whisper to us that it is going to take a long time to get to the lake, and even longer for the ocean. there is heartbreak in their eyes. and when they're too heavy to lift themselves, there on the deck we hang hammocks for the boatmen, we lure them into sleep. there are distant birds that wake us in the night, and we sense the presence of a mountain approaching.

part III

the mountain doesn't approach for a long time but we are approved of our suspicion by your changing climate.