A Story About Water and Light


A voice cloaked in a light so blinding no one could mistake it for religion spoke to
him about his loneliness. This happened next to the perpetual orphanage of the river in a
landscape that swallowed the sky. He had been a man so sad he could live in a wound, his
need nailed to a post in an open field, mice already nesting in its sagging assumptions.
O but such a vegetable joy! She humbled and pleased and terrified him.

“If a river sings, drink it. Make love to it inside you.”
Was it his voice?
“Or if it is a shadow that you make, then hold it, close, as in, I shadow you, which
grows larger than you do before this darkness like worn leather, this shadow swallowing
an owl perched in the crook of a dying oak.”

Her touch the shadow’s lip, the kind of woman who looks radiant in her husband’s
flannel shirt. Words roll in her mouth like peach bits.
Imagine her wanting you to want her, you wanting that to last, your desire to
become that watching.

The son he never had stood there with his arms folded, his large hands curled
against his body, testifying relentlessly to an assignation of weather or fate or something else beyond decisions.

And the voice came back damp and bright. You heard it in the trembling at the end
of a long path through the trees, and when your girlfriend first let you and her breath
caught, and when your mother tried that first time to tell you of your father’s cancer and again when her own bloomed.
Love, death, cruelty, kindness, it doesn’t seem to matter, as long as it startles you in
your ordinary footsteps, holds back the moment, with you in it.

When he had died a great distance, he spoke to her about the cemetery. They
agreed to continue, but the bloodsmoke that shoveled from her eyes surprised him. She
was ahead of him. She was further demonstrated.
She could only be happy when she was sad.

The end was not darkness, merely a light looking for rest. A crack in the closet
door. Made of words. Bundled together to form children. Which are thoughts come alive.
Which grow stronger than either of us in the wet light before the dark.

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.