THE HEALING HOLE by Judson Simmons “Found within the salt water mangrove forest that covers four miles of North Bimini is The Healing Hole, a pool that lies at the end of a network of underground tunnels… Natural lithium and sulfur are two of the minerals said to be contained in these waters, which seem to exhibit curative properties, as people express a sense of mental and physical rejuvenation after their visit.” – Travel Bahamas (2010) 1. My neighbor’s boy throws an old baseball against the brick wall of their house—the steady thump, the thump of a heartbeat—growing heavier in the summer heat, an echoed cadence. I cover my head with a pillow, trying to drown out that sound… All the while: bees hover a skyline of perfectly manicured yards, and a single line of ants march from their mound, heading to find their one desire. Outside, another day has begun... But I am inside. And I am tired. And I am aware of the shadows coloring the creases in the corner— brushstrokes of darkness in full bloom. I want to place these seconds and minutes and hours in a tin box, bury them in the backyard where they will rest— a time capsule to never open. 2. At midnight I find the television still on, a steady stream of useless information that was there hours earlier, and still just as useless. A documentary— the story of an island’s creek so mysterious even the locals shudder in awe. It’s called The Healing Hole: Where skin will glisten with a pureness that even god cannot take away. 3. I am running out of words to describe each moment. How many ways can I explain what remains? What remains is: ache in bones. No. What remains is: skin afire. 4. Warning. Side effects include: Nausea Dry Mouth Dizziness Insomnia Sleepiness Constipation Increased Blood Pressure Excessive Sweating Sexual Dysfunction Tremor Headache Agitation Muscle Weakness Blurred Vision Reduced or Increased Appetite or thoughts of suicide in children and adolescents Contact your physician immediately if you have side-effects. 5. She said: Place the pill upon your tongue, take one sip, then swallow. Everything will be okay… 6. But it’s not okay. These days grow short, each time I wake is met by the haze— blurred and muted— of remembering what I thought had gone away. 7. Of water within the cavernous underground Of saltwater mangrove where it resides Of lithium in the water Of lithium coursing through veins Of a history, built then shuttered, razed and reborn.