Gold Dust City: 2. (River Banks)

Back in the fields I duck under the rising flowers, my face is painted with cuts. I would love to build a summer of huts, to live with a beating heart, the only one I left behind. I wait for the shimmer, of eyes, of the glimmer they make when I’m lost underfoot. I wrap my arms wide around rough gator hide and we sail and we snake through each river, lake, and canals, all alive with you. Your trail is getting cool. In my mind I am a fool. My Wren she waits to fly, looking for the color so far below our sky. She isn’t a real wren; it’s just the name I gave her. She might be a bird, but for the fact that she wears shoes and a scarf. Do all birds have secrets? I always see them carrying things, tucked awkwardly in their wings. Twigs, twine, leaves, torn pieces of cloth, such happy builders. Their nests are works of art. They carry the world in them, the secret world of birds. Anyway, my Wren is fond of red and it suits her to no end.

I wake again with the alligators’ song. It echoes across the wind. It’s a bit of a chirp and a bit of a nuisance. I am full of jealousy. How can their voice travel when mine cannot? I am slowly pulling myself together with your things. Who knows, I might find my way back to the streets again. Maybe the field is another way, less damp. I can barely hear the voices anymore. They were once so clear to me but time is taking my memory away. They’ve been left behind in the Great Sinking Tunnel, so faint. They sound like hordes of laughing rats. Oh how they laugh at me. I’ve tried to open my arms to the fields, yet I am in the Tunnel again and I am sinking.

I prepare myself for the long haul back into some life, some place. I begin to walk into the saw grass and I see a tall wooden boat approach. Like a child’s toy but grown to tremendous proportions it almost takes up the entire width of the river. A wee red flag rides high at the top, a gift from Wren? My face cracks into a smile. My voice was heard after all. I feel it’s a boat, nay a great SHIP, held together with memory. I see gold, and other brightly colored flecks in the nicks and bruising along its bow. I sit myself down and take in the Sun. He smiles and warms my hands. I am surrounded by you now even though you are far away. You have always been with me. I have read you in my books. I can feel you in the dark. I would paint chapel walls of you, were I a painter-type. I am a bird with a broken egg, a fallen bird, an empty egg. If you listen, very closely, to the wind, you can hear all sorts of songs being sung.

I run my hands along the rivers’ surface. It’s a clear day, and I can see straight to the bottom. This river, it’s filled with rust. Army tanks, trucks, cars, sunken ships, canoes and airboats, and train cabs lie quiet amongst other shapeless, nameless bits of metal that make up the river’s bed. I see flecks of silver move in and out of open, or broken, windows and gaping holes in the metal. Are the fish carrying things in their fins, and in-betweenst their teeth? Are they fast at work down there? Are they trying to revive the dead? I set my ear to the wind and ask for an answer. I pick up another song, a song from the witches that sometimes dwell here in hopes of catching the fish that swim across their dreams:

Cry and cry

Your little eyes

So full of river fish.

Fill your rivers with his wish

River fish, river fish.

Catch one by his silver tongue

Never done, only one.

Catch one by her blazing fin

Going in

For a swim


Your eyes

The river fish.

Little wish.

Morning witch

Coming down

To fish with me

On the banks

Of all of me.

By the time the voices are gone, I’ve cried my own tears into the river. I watch scaly hands appear through the weeds and metal. They are hungrily trying to snatch up my sorrow, always hopeful in their quest. We pass Indian huts and several campfires long since abandoned as we circle around until the Sun retreats. Wren left me some bread tied with red ribbon, and a bottle of pink sugar water. I am alive again! I curl up under the failing light and drift away to sleep.

I fell off the bridge, and then I heard the sound. I am trapped beneath it. I am hidden. I am consumed by the humming. I wake up periodically and my ears, they sting and they ring and it’s only getting louder. The vibrations are making me lose ground. I can feel the earth shift and crack beneath me. The heat moves up my legs. I am only in slippers. I feel them slip off, slip into his hands. I can’t escape his song. I am saying my goodbyes to the oceans and the glades that have raised me. I am giving them back. I’ve found our light post at long last. The brightest Gold I’ve ever seen. It does not hurt to look.

I awaken sickly from the fever dream. I shut my eyes. The ship moves ever on.