The Same River Once
By Rich Ives

I will tell you that Jonathan holds very very still and a mouse crawls into his pocket. Jonathan too has crawled into a pocket, a larger one, but this one he invented, and until he invents a more lively body to wear its baggy coat, he’s going nowhere.
Jonathan’s Grandfather Petrov thought it was a game and held very still, almost as still as Jonathan. Then he thought, “There is no such thing as death, but the fear of it, the fear of it is real.”
Jonathan didn’t move. Jonathan was winning.
So the old man went to the mousey river and said to it, “Which of you has done this?” He hadn’t noticed the daughter of a wasp, sitting on the bank, mourning the loss of her wings, and he hadn’t noticed how much of the impatient world was moving past him.
But Jonathan became like unto an idea of himself held together with smoke and steam. Jonathan grew more intense. Jonathan was offering habitation to a concept larger than himself.
Then Petrov wanted to enter the world the wasp lived in. Petrov wanted to enter the wasp. But Petrov was afraid of rejection. He had become beggared by a penchant for malleable inconsequentials.
And so the old man touched the opening lightly with his foot to see if it was real. Which mimicked the actions of the mouse in Jonathan’s pocket although neither of them knew it and Jonathan continued dreaming.
Several daughters began flying across the river. The daughters dropped their wings on the other side and went looking for the sons. They wanted to lay their eggs in them. They wanted to wait patiently.
Do you want to ask the river some questions?
Hold very very still.
Then hold still longer than you can hold still.

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Rich Ives is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. An interview and18 hybrid works appear in the Spring 2011 issue of Bitter Oleander. In 2011 he has been nominated twice for Best of the Net.

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