Old Cotter


Old Cotter comes out of the marsh dragging a bum leg and a burlap sack filled with
dead stories. He sits by the fire, and as he explains how each of them died, spasms shake
the bag, furred shadows slip out, and each of us feels something attach itself to our feet.
The next morning we travel west. By noon we reach an understanding. We travel on
through quiet towns, holding our breath in our hands, listening to the songs of the rain
and imagining the fire burning under the fog-bound marsh.
I pause for a moment by the river and slip my hand in the current. The cold nibbles
at my fingers while the sun warms the shirt on my back. I walk through dust, sweat rising
from my skin, cooling me and collecting small stories of the earth and wind. Darkness
tells them to stay. Sleep gives them a home.
A network of mingled currents, the long roots of marshgrass, the paths of snails
and waterbugs. At night, beside the wet veins of the earth, shadows call across the water.
In sleep we answer them, shivering out over the smooth cold arm of the night as if we
had a purpose beyond morning.

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.