This is how my world begins. The Creator of all things moved in thunder across a great sphere of water and knew that perfection was the sole proprietorship of gods, so he formed the land. He did this by commanding Crawfish to swim down below the waters and, doing what Crawfish still does today, bring up mud into a mound like a volcanos throatmore and more, until the mud pierced the surface and dried under the sun. Crawfish continued to work, now snug and dry within the tunnel passage of his mound, bringing up mud, which spread and radiated, dried and hardened, and in this way, the Creator of all things sundered perfection by making the land, and isolated men by forcing them to live upon it. Rivers moved across what had been created, for water is intolerant of imperfection. The edge of the sea laps at the margins of Crawfishs labor, sifting it away, but rivers move the earth from here to there, dumping it back into floodplains and basins. Lakes collect and persist, pools of grace to remind those who live too far from the sea of what lies beyond. There are only three things constant from aft of my life to where I now sit, slightly more than amidships: Crawfish continues to build the land, water continues to confront it, and the infinite journey between the two. *** I remember the day everything changed, everything came full circle. It was a golden dusk in late fall, before the grip of winter had come but the heat of summer had faded. I had gone over to my parents house for something or another, and noticed Dads car was absent, the boat shed was open and empty. Walking along the path to the bayou, through the natural arch between bright green junipers, browning cypress and evergreen oaks, I could see a silhouette in the last hours of the day blazing out in gossamer hues of reds and oranges. The sun conjured shimmering wraiths of bright white, unleashed silver magic, on the unmoving bayou surface. Glimmering light sketched the shape of that old bateau, tied off to a cypress beyond the edge of the bank; the old man, straw fishing hat, still-powerful shoulders and a handkerchief dangling from a back pocket; four fishing rods, thin black shadows, propped up on the gunwales, motionless. A halo of shipwrecked sunbeams fringed everything,! but nothing moved. Not the boat, not the cypress needles, not even the old man, save for his head, which slowly panned from side to side, as he watched the dusk overtaking the day, a day spent as he wanted to spend it, in an old wooden boat on the water. "Hi, pop," I said quietly, as if my voice would somehow shatter the vision, send it raining into pieces like a broken windowpane. The years I had not fished, and that he had spent fishing alone, accumulated in the tree limbs, scattered across the clouds and sank into the motionless water of the Teche. The outline of the straw hat tilted, but he didnt look back, kept his gaze fixed on the rays fanning out from that brilliant eternal flame in the west. "Whatcha say, boy?" he answered kindly. At the edge of the bayou at my feet, the water might just as well have been ice it was so still. "Caught anything?" "A few cats and one little perch," he said. "Tides not moving much." "Slow day," I observed. "Slow day," he agreed, but I knew, somehow, at some level I had until then forgotten, that though maybe the fishing was slow, a slow day was precisely what he wanted, what he watched fading across the horizon of cypress peaks down the bayou. I sat on a stump and we didnt talk anymore, we just watched that slow day pass into night. Years and years of disconnection fell away like the leaves which autumn claims. I was aware that while the dusk was communal between us, the only thing separating us was my seat on dry land and his on the water. A chasm of years began to close along with that day. The edge of the sun dipped lower, finally vanished behind the tree line. Orange, pink and billowy white brush strokes swept across the sky; tiny specks which were distant birds climbed high winds on their flight south, and I remembered the wonder of a slow day on the water and never forgot again. *** Overhead, silver warriors throw spears from inside the black clouds, spears that turn into jagged, spectacular lightning bolts. The crash of them is created by a thunderbird, lurking somewhere in those same billows, beating its wings like a gargantuan raptor. There is no rain. I watch the lightning, not a second goes by without a magnificent blast of power, pitched down by silver-faced dead. When the galleons arrived on Grande Lake and approached Amatpan namu, the nata of the village refused them. He forbade them to come ashore. If I look beyond the scattered wreckage of old oil drums lashed together as buoys, derelict boat trailers and assorted metal and wooden junk, I can nearly see small children, their faces stricken with amazement, looking out at these huge wooden vessels with their great sails, the strange, iron-clad men upon them, their faces so pale and bearded. I can see the nata, standing firm in his protection of a single village among dozens in the nation. What might have gone through his mind? Surely he could not have imagined that he was the first to witness the end, those who would, with the passing of time, reduce his thriving nation from tens of thousands to a handful of survivors numbering less than fifty.