New Year's Eve

It was near nightfall when we descended upon the cave,

its opening a broad maw like the mouth of a catfish,

tapering into deeper reaches of darkness

We crawled up to the basin - a small pool, no larger in diameter

than a dinner plate, its depth at most six inches. It was unclear how it formed,

whether by time, wind, and water,

or perhaps shaped by human hand

to gather the scant drops of water that seeped from the dank stone.

We knelt down in the failing light of dusk, headlamps illuminating

the portal before us and began to draw water in slow steady pulls, just enough to last us the night.

When the vessels were full

we used our hands to

scoop out gobs of clay and silt that had settled in the bottom, so that more water might be waiting

for whoever might come next with their thirst. I thought perhaps it could be the dam black bear, whose tracks

and claw drags I had seen here once

in the fine mud of the floor

alongside smaller marks, those of her cubs.

When we crested the rise

into view of our camp,

we beheld a room high on the cliff

aglow in orange flicker

against the night, a fire awaiting us, and companions

tending it.

Can you taste the way in which this sequence

destroyed my

delusions?

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