The Edge of the River

Legs drawn to my chest, I sit just beyond the water and write with the hope of finding you in the words. I have been here before and too fondly recall the dangerous possibilities of hope. Only a bit of you is revealed right before feverish scribbles appear on the page and the ink dries in my pen. The sentences imprint themselves on the paper between the lines, void of color. My fingers, possessed, follow the ghostly strokes.

“All is well here”,read the letters.

I close the notebook’s cover and press the three stems of baby’s breath at my side into the invisible ink. Running the palm of my hand across the tattered leather, I make my way to the water. There are no more words. I cried at the edge of the river this morning. There is a discomfort and pleasure at the soles of my feet as they rub against the smooth stones and I memorize the ebb and flow of the river, watching it wash to my ankles and return to my toes once again. The breeze blows, a whiff of rich earth fills my nostrils and I remember you. While dropping to my knees and stretching the chiffon fabric over my thighs, the heaviness rests between my heels as I lean forward. My reflection casts itself in the liquid like a mirror held closely to my nose. There is some peace here. A knowing we grew stranger to.

For a moment I see me, you ... us. My face disappears as I lower my arms and the water floods into my palms. Perhaps I see nothing at all. I call your name into my hands. It is unlike the seaside here. I am reminded by the slow conjuring between my fingers. You were the salty sea that escaped against my wounds and exposed skin. My hands, covered in grains of sand stuck between my fingers where I once so desperately attempted to hold you. Your love was like water filling every crack and crevice, I never quite learned how to carry you.

I lift my hands as tears and river water, both purified, fall and crash at the insides of my elbows.

“Take me back where there is crashing.”

Although far away from the river’s edge, I can feel the weight of you in my arms. My heart exhales as she knows we are led here because this is the only place you can hear me now.

Can you hear me?

Silly me, trying to fill all the holes in your chest and tending to your gaping wounds. Leaking water from my mouth to keep moist your cracking lips, I held your pain in the vacant corners of my heart. I survived in your name.

I emptied myself for you.

All of me now lies in the river under my knees. I walk from its edge into its depth as it climbs to my shins, sloshes to my calves and travels up to my knees. The water separates my thighs, pulls my hips to the center of the earth, and begins to playfully bounce beneath my breasts. This touch feels familiar. I whisper a faint promise to give you to this place.

The weight of the river sits on my shoulders and ...

I drink. 

I drink in hopes of being like the water.

Lips wet with the fresh water of this place, a song plays in my mind reminiscent of you. One last moment of serenity before you go. The silence of the ripples pierces my ears. The leaves don’t move and time stands still. Here, at the riverside, where butterflies are seen in winter and God felt in the unholiest of places. Where clouds sat on the tips of our tongues and you compare loving me to swallowing the sun.

Waiting. 

Waiting. 

Wishing for a lesson to live like the water. To be like the water.

It is forgiving and I have not yet learned how to be. 

Trusting and I have not yet learned how to be. 

Merciful and I have not yet mastered how to be. 

It is destructive. 

As I am.

Silently hoping you will return to me, the water knows the answer. It knows if you belong here or at the feet on the shore of another. I scream into the endless body of water, hoping that someone hears me. Turning around and walking back to its edge, water drips from my fingertips and tears fall from my eyes, I give you to the river.

This is where I will mourn you, bury you beneath the rocks. I snatch the clouds from my tongue and swallow my own sun. The last of you falls from my fingertips and the final wave of your salty sea streams down my face.

I cried at the edge of the river this morning. 

All is well here.

Shefon TaylorComment