Having asked my students to write about a minor character in the folktale, I write about the ferryman. I am the ferryman. I row passengers to the other side. Some passengers rock the boat. They grip the gunwales and moan. It's my job to keep the boat steady, to get them across. They get out, and I'm as relieved as they are. But sometimes they're smart and funny. They tell good stories and make the rowing easier. No matter who I carry across, when we reach the other side, I wish I could get out, too. I picture my passengers going on in their journey -- on dry land, through cities and prairies and mountains. How far will they go? How crucial was it, getting them across one small body of water? I shift my oars and row back to where I've been. New passengers grumble and step aboard.