A Few Short Words

Dense Not Thick




The moon sits on its empty throne pouring silver into the river like a forge disgorging purpose. The water accepts and spins its winnings into rippling silk that flows from bank to bank. Upon the shores the huddled masses lap their zees, feeding the night’s currency into tomorrow’s activities. Out of sight the curlews cry in mournful account. The night, they say, is fleet and fierce and makes the cost of living great. From the comforts of their black morass the stars record these tender exchanges, charged with value of an incredible order their bid for life never depreciates.


Stood by the river with clasped hands and the high tide begging for our feet. I thought for the longest time that I could never live, I said. I’d come to accept that happiness was something other people felt. Arris pulled herself into the furrow beneath my arm and constricted my chest. ‘I thought I knew what happiness was,’ she said, ‘that I was living and had lived a life as happy as I might.’ I pulled her close about the shoulder and listened to the lapping water. We are always more together, I said, watching sadness float away.


Two boys sitting by the river, sharing a stout tallie from a paper bag, the late afternoon sun snaking downstream in a thousand foamy particulates. Jonah takes a gulp and sighs from somewhere beyond his body. Colt lifts the bottle from his friend and says, ‘That bad, huh?’ A coxswain barks directives. ‘It’s that good,’ Jonah tells the river. ‘Until now I’ve felt like an understudy for my own life. I knew the lines, blocking, and backstage etiquette, but was always preparing someone else for their break.’ Colt finishes the beer and belches, ‘Man, you’ve always been a star.’


I cried myself a river and floated bodily down it. Occasionally I would reach into the brackish wake, hoping to steer by manipulating the past. Of course, I hit every rock I could, lamented the rest, and yearned for the coast. Though I found the tumult quite comfortable, as my journey lengthened I wondered to what end I was headed. The more I thought about it the more the river receded. Eventually I found myself beached, standing upon a raft of experiences and wondering what next. I looked to the horizon, saw a mirage and decided it was real.

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