merge into

When no one had heard from Anna the next day, and Richard's phone calls to her dorm room had increased to hourly and round the clock, Richard called the University of California campus police at Berkeley. "My daughter has disappeared," he began.

"How do you know?" the lady on the phone asked.

Richard told her everything he had done. The Security Coordinator had checked twice again and still reported nothing to worry about. "The place hadn't been touched," he had said. "Exactly, " Richard had replied.

"Well, our policy is to immediately fill out a police report and declare her missing. Then we'll go up, interview her friends, and see where she is at. You know, the Security Coordinator is right--there is nothing to worry about. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the kid is just shacking up with a boyfriend and has just decided not to let you know. There are a thousand religious groups in this area, and she could just be taking an intensive course there, too. Nothing to worry about," she told him brightly.

Richard choked in his coffee and spluttered over the phone. "Other than the dangers in living with an unknown boyfriend or being brainwashed in a cult, you mean. And what about that one in a hundred? Do you find them? What happens to them? Or do they simply merge into the madness of humanity without a trace?"

Her voice darkened. "Look, I'm telling you again from experience, there is nothing to worry about. We get these all the time, and the kid always ends up calling home. A bit embarrassing for the kid, but there you go. Now, your name? Student's name?"

After they went through the form twice, she gave him a file number: # 9809999

"Your contact point is Sergeant Wilson, but you can call any of us--just refer to the file number. We'll keep in close contact. Don't worry," she ended. And hung up.

rivers / merge into / distant nothings / so many instances / of the same time / leave undefined / origins / and destinations

the word is / the sound / of water / dripping from/ ancient symbols / tiny particles / of merging / realities