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How Kind the River

Ever since my youth I’ve known of a stream. I reached into its depths, and it delivered pretty things. “I would so like to ballet,” said I to Mother one fine day. Mother’s fingers swirled the surface, and I barely heard her say, “All that is gold does not glitter/The nut in the bough of the tree/But if this is what you wish for/Surely the river will give to thee.” ‘Twas not a fortnight later, when I was home from school, that I found a pair of slippers and a kit of ballet tools. I rushed to thank the river, passing Mother dear. The surface merely twinkled, and my path henceforth was clear.

Whenever I needed a favor, down to the banks I’d run. I’d bring along my mother, and she’d enchant beneath the sun. “All that is gold does not glitter/The bird in its twiggy nest/But if this is what you wish for/Surely the river with bless.” And I would wait but a fortnight, and all good things would come to me: a kite, a cake, a paper doll, a flowering apple tree. And I would run to thank the river, passing mother dear. The surface would do its twinkle, and I would dance in its depths, clear.

This lasted ‘til my twelfth year, so many things had I. But Mother was getting sickly, and soon was sure to die. So I ran down to the river, and entreated beneath the sun: “All that is gold does not glitter/The heart within my breast/But if this is what I wish for/The river will do the rest.” Confident was I that Mother would regather all her strength. Confident and foolish, and naïve in my mistake. It wasn’t ‘til I buried her that I realized the fact: my mother was the river— the gifts, her selfless act.

The riverbed had dried up, and I moved away from home. Years and years passed hither, and soon I’d a girl of my own. I’d take her down to the riverbed, still as dry as sand, until I started singing a song from my past: “All that is gold does not glitter/The bird in its twiggy nest/But if love is what you wish for/Surely your mother will bless.” I don’t believe in magic, I don’t believe in fate. But my daughter has my mother’s eyes, and I’ll often here her say: “Mama loves you, dearest. River run dry and low.” And I’ll feel a peace deep within me, a river within my soul.

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