Water Source

Written in my tent in the rain. July. Northern California. PCT mile 1321.5

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We squat beside a swampy hole in the ground

And each other

Plunging our plastic bottles beneath the surface

And swatting at swarms of mosquitoes

Who suckle our skin like teats

It is futile

We know

They always win in the end.

 

We filter cow shit from the water

Before we drink it

Even though we are

So Thirsty

Thirstier, we are sure

Than anyone has ever been before.

 

We pour the water from dirty bottles into clean ones

The mouths of which we cover with a filthy bandana

Squeeze droplets of bleach

And packets of pink powder

Into the slightly less murky water

Tricking ourselves into believing

It’s ice cold lemonade

It is futile

We know

And drink the pink cow shit water anyways.

 

Later we lie on our backs with our sleeping bags unzipped halfway

Watching the stars and planets

Do their nocturnal dance with the big black sky

And I feel like I’m spying

On some private communion of the constellations

But I look anyways

How could I not.

 

Beside me in the dark

He sits up and coughs

Clears his throat maybe

He isn’t tired, he wants to talk

About life

Thru-hiking

The life cycle of mosquitoes

And what happens in the end

These conversations that we have at night

Are my favorite conversations.

 

In the morning we drink cold instant coffee

Shove things into stuff sacks

Arrange them perfectly inside our packs

He didn’t sleep well

I can tell

He wants to argue about how many miles we’ll have to hike

Until the next water source, and will it be another

Motherfuckingcowshit puddle

It was a pond

I say

He shoulders his pack

So we walk

It is futile

We know

To try to give these things names.

 

They always win in the end.

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