Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lake In The Jungle

The lake lay just under the earthy banks pierced by roots which dipped their tips into the cool green water. It was long and narrow, making it easy to rest hidden among the trees on one shore to spy on the bank of the next. Tigers of a brilliant orange camouflaged with black stripes did just this, spying on brown skinned men who watched them from the opposite bank.
Floating near the surface of the lake, mid sized alligators let their green bumps and ridges break through the glassy green water like tiny islands, now and then yawning to expose the pink insides of their cavernous mouths with lake weed caught on pointed white teeth. Where the bank provided a beach rather than dropping abruptly from jungle to water, the wily reptiles lay in the dark moist sand pretending to sleep, sometimes with mouths open so that daring little birds could venture inside to pick out the lake weed and worms and leaches that made their own micro dimensional jungle around the white teeth.
The larger jungle which held tigers, and men, and alligators, and tiny birds that could travel between macro and micro worlds, was possessed of the sort of trees whose arms and roots twisted and intertwined so that it was difficult to discern where one tree ended and the other began. They wore streamers of dark green moss the way Spanish ladies wear lacy shawls over their arms and shoulders, and sometimes vines dared to wind themselves around the pale trunks and branches.
Lines of ants employed these thick juicy tethers as highways and marched throughout the canopy and back down to the earth on them, stopping now and again to attack some other insect in mass or to sample the nectar held in the yellow blossoms that interrupted the vines' straight lines like Diners made cheery by a waitress named Doris along an abandoned interstate. They knew the jungle and the lake's perimeter from a vastly different perspective than either the men with their long black hair and dark round eyes or the tigers who went about silently on padded feet or even the alligators and little birds.
The men, the tigers, and the alligators had to be wary of one another, whereas the ants were rarely considered by anyone but the vines and trees whose flesh they tickled incessantly. The men would dive into the lake for a moment now and then, shaking the water from their long hair after bursting back up from the lake's verdant depths. There was an awkward symmetry to the lake's patrons; alligators preferring the sunny bank and men therefore preferring the shady side.
Fish were universally threatened, swimming pink and silver, and green and even striped in the lake's depths. Now and then a school would shimmer just under the surface looking like a trove of jewels before meeting their fate. One third swam into strange pink and white caverns, never to return to the wide open waters, another third became tangled in nets fashioned from retired vines and the other third managed to collect together far from peril and preserve the future of their species.
The lake banks were mostly quiet, disturbed by the occasional growl of a tiger or the laughter of a man or a splash as an alligator rose or descended from the lake's surface. Tiny birds made tiny noises and tigers sniffed through the moist lake smells to make out the odor of edible flesh. The men checked their nets and watched the tigers prowl the opposite bank. They smelled like the lake themselves, with only the tiniest hint of salty sweat betraying them.

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