A Pause on the Way Up the River


An old man is not a stone from the river, washed down the mountain and polished
smooth all over, so how does he understand what has swallowed him? Why should he
have to tell such a story?

Little Nonsense ate and ate and grew and grew. By and by his skin grew too small
for him. Stretch went his skin and Plop, Flop and Stop went his roly poly
cholesterol-saturated jumble of inner workings right deep in that stretched-out skin with a
rubbery little sway and jiggle.

First Branch, trying to help, said, “What a stone sees has been here longer than
innocence. Go to the river and find the end of its tail.”
And there was a great groveling and a flouncing and a staring off into the distance
and finally Little Nonsense dragged his fear to the river.
What do you think Little Nonsense found there?
No more light. No more water. No more wind. And no more sky.

Second Branch, trying even harder to help, said, “Even a mountain knows the way
down. Go to the highest place in your head and fall off. It’s not as hard as you think.”
And the skin around Little Nonsense tightened and drew close and he felt the food
he had eaten grow softer and drop away and something cool and wet was tugging at his
ankles. He couldn’t be sure if he had come to the river’s edge or if he had wet himself.

Behold! The old man resting rounded and clean, the river once more on its
invisible way back up the mountain, and Little Nonsense so full of only himself he grew
hungry again for other experiences. Which swallowed him and kept him moving. And he
grew slowly older living in the river with the old man, who turned out to be his father,
who turned out to be Little Nonsense and kept him smooth in his long passage and lifted
him up to the top of the mountain to see what he could learn falling down and ate of
himself instead of the offerings of strangers.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.