How Fantasy Was Born


In a hemlock grove atop a snowy mountain, silence blooms. Minutely needled branches quiver. Water drips from a crotch of snow between crossed logs into a black pool. More silence.  Nothing is as beautiful as this. No poem, no words, no sculpture, no painting. Nothing human-made can approach this three dimensional physical plane, where the points of depth and dimension are plotted by each hemlock needle.

Don’t listen to the theorists who have traveled so far from the physical that their heads float like balloons above their bodies, attached only by a tiny string. They have tried to convince us that reality is perception, that we shape what we see with our language, and therefore can never truly see the world as it is.

We know better.  If you stop, breathe and look, you will see.

They got it backwards. We are part of nature. The landscape shaped us, shaped the brains that made the language. Landscape shaped our stories. The fallen logs beside the still water tossed up the elves. The creek burbled fairy laughter, the snow-covered boulder created Hansel and Gretel’s frosted house impossibly far from the path of human treading. When you hear a woman screaming in the forest and follow the sound into the mouth of a mountain lion, a thousand myths are born. The seal’s soft round eyes created the selkies who shed their skins and became us. The change of seasons, the unceasing variety of bird call and flower petals commanded our tongues to shape new sounds. The order of the needles divided our sounds into segments, giving birth to language.  And now, when we go back to the source, the land speaks us, and we call it magic.

About laledavidson

I am a lifestyle blogger for Albany’s premier newspaper, The Times Union, and I teach fiction writing at SUNY Adirondack, where I was recently promoted to Distinguished Professor. My stories have appeared in The Collagist, Big Lucks, and Eclectica, among others. I was a finalist for the Franz Kafka Award issued by Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review as well as the Black Lawrence Chapbook Contest of 2015 and the Talking Writing Award for humorous writing advice. My story “The Opal Maker” was named Wigleaf top 50 (Very) Short Stories of 2015. The Ciphery was a finalist for the Heekin Group Foundation James Fellowship for unpublished novels.

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