No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. — Heraclitus (6th Century B.C.)
Walking along the Aare river
I stop to see the water flow
And think of Heraclitus’ dictum
Ahead of me I spot a woman
Wait, is that me?
Same stride, same demeanour
The hair now entirely white
Something new, a minor limp in the hip
How did that happen? I wonder
Better take the calcium pills, I make a mental note
I run after her, or shall I say, I run after me?
She slowly turns her head, the veins in her temple have grown thicker
Our eyes lock
First the surprise
Are you a memory? She seems to ask
Can this be? The same I, two different times?
And then, the mutual recognition
We embrace, she and I are one
A familiar scent envelopes us, Magie noire de Lancôme
She notices my deep inhale
“I’ve worn it since I was 17, a gift from my father,” we say, in unison
I tried to change perfume a few times, it always smelt like treason
And then fear overtakes me
She is alone, is he forever gone? I want to know
“Count on it, I will be gone before you, women live longer than men, it’s a fact,”
His words like daggers, a life sentence of sorts
Are my sisters well? And the children?
The questions crowd in my mouth, rush to find their way out
But she resumes her path
Hold on, please, I plead, let me ask you
I point to a toddler a few steps ahead of her
Tell me what the future holds
She draws a finger to her lips, and smiles
Aged, still beautiful, more serene
“No spoiler,” she seems to say, and tenderly points upstream
She moves on, into my future
I’m pleased to see her go
Note: I am told Heraclitus’ exact quote reads On those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow.