Short pieces written a while ago
The River’s Story
I am wide now and deep, flowing as I do through the flat lands with the weight of many waters upon me. As I look back I can see where I have been and it seems that all the time and the distance that I have traveled are as a small thing when weighed against the thing I shall soon do – the thing I was born for: For I am River and soon I must pour myself into Ocean!
I will tell you some of my story.
I was born of Sun and Wind at the snowline high up in the great mountains and, as I threw myself into the air with glad abandon, the whole mountain echoed with the voice of my laughter.
I fell swiftly down the rocks, sheer cliffs and gullies to be joined by many other streams and we banded together in one accord until the weight of my waters caused me to roar and shout till I made the rock itself to split. It took but a little while for me to hits the earth below with a shock and a mighty noise and to cascade forth down to the pleasant lands beneath the shadow of the mountains.
Oh! The joy of those early hours as I played through the bright, sunlit fields filled with spring flowers and green trees, I was clean, then, and icy cold and when I ran by a village or small town the children would laugh and sing as they played in my waters.
I traveled many leagues with the joy of youth upon me while the mountains receded and I brought life to thirsty places and men called me bountiful and blessed.
There were many hills still to be rounded at this stage of my journey – and valleys: long valleys with sheer cliffs stretching high above me and echoing to the voice of my waters as I twisted and turned, trying to find a path around the great rocks strewn along the way until I came one day to a place where I discovered an immovable wall of stone completely blocking my path.
The men of the land had come and constructed a giant dam to withstand me! The same men I had succoured with my waters, whose crops I had brought life to: whose children had played in the shallows of my bed. These men had betrayed me and thrown a mighty wall of stone and concrete between two rugged cliffs at the place where the uplands finished and where I should have poured myself onto the plains.
I was enraged! I smote that dam with all my might and the earth trembled like a reed plucked by the wind. But the dam held and my waters were made captive and grew with each passing moment as I thundered into the valley.
Days passed – weeks – and my waters grew apace. I became a great lake, deep and cold, dark and still and men said I was captive and obedient to their will. Yet though I murmured now rather than roaring and gently lapped the edges of my prison, my fingers were patiently searching, probing, trying all the walls of the dam to find its weaknesses. At times I almost despaired of ever finding a way of escape until at last – ho Joy! – my searches were rewarded and hope began to spring again in my as I discovered the smallest of holes in the fabric of the dam.
I squeezed my fingers in and began to break off the surrounding concrete – tiny pieces at first, but larger as the process continued to gain momentum.
I worked tirelessly for days and all the while the might and weight of my waters grew and multiplied as the little hole became a great shaft with many arms covering a large area of the lower wall of the dam. The moment came when success was within my grasp and I called upon all my waters to aid me for I had caused there to be a great cavern within the dam wall and only a thin outer layer of stone and cement lay between me and my freedom.
All that long day I waited till the sun sank low turning my waters to the colour of blood and then I pushed with all my strength. Once: Twice and it held. Again I heaved and then, with the noise of splitting rock I burst forth into the valley and plains below with a force that caused the whole dam to be overthrown and the cliffs to break open before me. I roared and shouted and cried aloud for the joy of freedom was upon me and I swept away all before me till I came again into the bed of my own original course and the fury of my anger was appeased.
So it was that men never again tried to dam me or hold me captive and I rolled once more downwards to the sea.
Now it came to pass after this that I found myself in a place where another river came flowing down and joined me at the end of a long, shallow valley and she became part of me, taking upon her part of my burden of life-giving waters and men called us both by my name and we were content all that summer to flow swiftly to the lowlands and the plains.
But as time rolled on we saw that the days were growing short till we should part into the Ocean, for it is not the way of things to remain the same forever and so it is that I have come as a youth from the mountains till my sere old age on the plains where men call me slow and mighty and none there is who can stand before me or the strength of my currents.
Yet, though it may seem to you a sad thing that I should lose myself and my identity when I go to the Ocean I would say that for me it is a great joy that now, after I have served Nature and obeyed her laws all my days and have watered the lands of men and brought life to their crops that I should be changed to something new and better. For that is the way of life – we come and we go: we live and we die. But this dying is only a change into something else for though I am now sweet and follow my own course, there I will be salt and free to follow any course I choose in all the Oceans of the world.
But now I must be leaving for Great Ocean is calling me and I have waited all my life to hear His voice.