The Sometimes Pool

by Kristin Fast

 

There’s a sometimes pool in the woods by my house. I witnessed it one year beside the hill path, when it came on a spring day and stayed for three.

The sometimes pool is the kind of pool you toss wishes in. Flat as a black mirror, deep as an eye, it yields no reflection. To look into its depths is to tumble down the tunnelled mouth of the earth.

Perhaps it grew from a natural low spot, hemmed in by banked ice and the hill behind and the sunken fence rail edging the path. Perhaps it formed from that year’s slow thaw, when the ice melted in cascading wrinkles, half-frozen water folding over itself like icing, stretching to fill shelves of its own making.

Three days I walked past it, morning and night, stopping to marvel, to stare into its inky depths. I crouched beside it, blew on its slate surface, peered into its inky depths, trying to probe its mysteries, trying to make the voice of the earth speak.

On the fourth day it had gone. The weather changed. The pool dried up or ran away. Where the mirror had been, a rust puddle of pine needles remained.

Water moves on.
Memory doesn’t.

Twice a day I still pass the sometimes pool, a clutching in my chest where its shape longs to be. I feel its wild face pointed at the sky. I taste its stillness lingering, keen to flood forth once more.

The puddle of pine needles accumulates companions; moss and sticks and leaves. It sleeps beneath snow as the season change.

No spring since has brought the pool into being. But every spring day, each time I come to that curve in the path, I catch my breath, listening hard for the sometimes pool, for its silence among the whispers of the trees.