28 January 2018

Flood on the River of Dreams

His eyes open slow as the rise of the sun. A patient inexorability shedding light on the world. It is cool here, and quiet save for the sounds of the forest. Pain resides here, too, but as a fading memory in his bones. The earth is cool and damp under sore cheekbones. Tadhg breathes deep of the petrichorean air, marveling that he appears to be alive.

His world swims into focus. Sand the color of Demerara sugar. A mosaic of glossy gravel, nacreous in the early light. Ahead lies a dense line of riparian jetsam, arranged by the fractal urgency of high rushing water. Beyond the wrack, a wall of cedars and pines wait patiently in hunter and emerald refulgency caressed by the quickening daylight. 
The flood, he hoped, was gone.

Tadhg levers himself to hands and knees. The bank rests in its shawl of green, brown, and tan. His eye is attracted to a vivid patch of color, shimmying in a zephyr padding down the riverbed with feline silence. Flowers? he thinks, how did they survive? He lurches upright to get a better view. A score of slow paces later and his guess is confirmed. It is a patch of flowers resplendent in shades of cornflower and indigo.

He stands with hands on hips to marvel at this small miracle. The flood had been savage in its intensity, days if not weeks of roil and destruction. Tadhg looked around and wondered if he was anywhere near home. Judging from the unfamiliarity of the terrain he reckoned that unlikely. Yet it was beautiful here, and the combination of water and forest stilled his jangled nerves with arboreal comfort.

The silence is broken. A sharp cry breaks out overhead, causing Tadhg to look up and out over the river. He spies a bald eagle skimming the tree line on the opposite bank. The bird is bathed in the aureate glory of the morning sunlight. The sight of the bird loosens something in Tadhg's chest, and he finds it possible to breathe easy once again.

TokTokTok. From just inside the trees beyond the flowers comes the unmistakeable sound of a woodpecker drumming on a trunk. The sound makes Tadhg smile. He cannot escape the parallel between his own stubborn joust with the world and the labors of the unseen bird. 

The eagle glides downriver, a spirit passing into the light mist. Dying echoes of the woodpecker fade into the forest. Quietude descends on the river as even the breeze ceases its whispers. Tadhg can feel the earth breathing beneath his feet. 

He looks down at his filthy, sodden clothes. He sees the scratches on his arms and hands, a result of scouring amongst the gravel of the flood. He bleeds, slowly, but survives. Falling to his knees he prostrates himself in prayer before the flowers. Surely the existence of such beauty amongst the wrack is proof to his pagan heart that the earth, or something bigger, wants him to live.


  1. I thought my command of the english language was ...more than sufficient. But....this one has me running to the dictionary like a school boy.

    And, on a less technical note, I love the contemplation of nature. She is fierce but balanced in her own way. Death and life.

    1. Nature is where my heart lies much of the time. I think of the dictionary as a deep pool of wonders that always rewards those who dive into it.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...