my river eyes

There’s a river snaking its way through the gullet of my town.

During winter, when the sky is heavy and the clouds are full of rain and pain and the dreams of all below, the river sometimes acts like a bully.

It threatens.

I watch the sky from the top branch of a magnolia tree situated on the right side of the river.

Each colour of earth’s roof develops before my eyes and I am always in awe of its beauty.

I especially love when the blackest of clouds roll across from distant places I’ve never been.

Eventually, the clouds above me become so weighted with all they have collected and their bases open to allow an overwhelming fall.

It is heavy.

I rarely run from the rain.

I like the way it changes me.

My hair sticks to my skin and I lick at the raindrops which stream down my face and tease the sides of my mouth.

I sometimes cry.

In the rain, the only difference between tears and cloudburst is the taste.

Since I’ve been alive, there have been two occasions when the deluge was so heavy that it threatened the river with overflow.

At the alert of impending flood, everyone in town becomes nervous and most eyes keep check on the possibility of us all drowning.

Housewives and husbands prepare by securing outside furniture and packing survival boxes for an impending great escape.

I try to help.

Though I prefer to sit in my tree and watch.

And wait.

I’m not selfish, I’m just a kid and people don’t seem to expect much from me, so I do what I want.

Men and women and children who don’t like trees as much as me, all rally together to stack hessian bags filled with sand against the banks of the river.

They build walls.

My eyes dart from the river, to the rising sandbags and then down to the gauge height stick, which is plunged into the earth beside the waters edge.

I then look up towards the black sky.

Calculating the probability of my house being flooded and me needing to leave the seventh branch of a magnolia tree has little to do with math.

It’s really beyond all human control.

I know about mother earth and she’s the boss.

She decides.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful or a know-it-all but sometimes I think that half of this town is stupid.

A human can only build a wall so high.

I heard my aunt talking to my mother once about walls and me and how she thinks I have too many of them.

“I’m worried about her!” She said, with squinted eyes and a furrowed brow.

I don’t believe I’m overly troubled but I do think my aunt should stop creasing her face into a look of distaste over me because I do know about wrinkles.

I’m not worth her fading beauty.

I like my walls.

They keep me safe.

They keep other people safe too.

Mine aren’t filled with sand and I don’t need an army to help stack them, I have done it all on my own.

I have this village within me filled with hope and dreams.

My best set of white canvas trainer shoes with three black stripes sit beside the gate clean and ready.

I’m saving those shoes for when I run.

One day.

I know I could leave at any time but I don’t want to hurt the people who love me so I’m waiting until I’m older.

It’s a secret of mine I try to hide but I’d like to let you know; I can’t wait to leave this town.

I will miss my tree but I’m sure there are better things to climb, like mountains and magnificent ladders to excellence and success.

I try my best.

My teacher asked me last week if I was ok and whether I’d been sleeping enough lately.

She said I had bags under my eyes.

I told her that they were the sandbags of me, placed there to protect my river eyes from flooding.

She looked at me like she felt sorry for me.

I hate when people do that.

© ryan

my river eyes

PJ Ryan

Melbourne, Australia

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