Esch 2022
Esch 2022

Rosa André Lynn

An Elegy from the Riverbed

Hope is the thing with feathers” 

— Emily Dickinson


When the river came, it made its bed in our house, unbidden and unwelcome. And after making itself comfortable, it told us of a nightmare.

“I didn’t mean to”, it started, bracky water slowly climbing the steps to our basement. “Which does not absolve me of responsibility. But I want you to know that it wasn’t on purpose.”

We sat down on top of the staircase to listen, all huddled together, and considered the river for a moment. Its gentle, repetitive rippling motions across the floor tiles, the soft splashing sounds it made. It could have been peaceful, if it weren’t unwanted.

We waited, as the river wept. 


“When I visited the old man, I was slow, and quiet.” The river began in a murmur. “It was the middle of the night, and this was an old house. I came up through the imperfect plumbing, steadily and stealthily, and reclaimed everything I could. In the living room, there was a birdcage perched high on top of an old, heavy bookshelf. Inside, the canary looked at me, at foreign waters - impassable and silent. 

I lifted the small furniture, the vases, the dusty picture frames. This is what I do: I make things float or sink to be forgotten. There is no in-between.

Next to the old bookshelf, a standing lamp wavered dangerously. It was a chunky thing, all brass and kitsch, the top of it modelled like an opening flower. One of the metal petals caught a bar from the birdcage, and the whole came tumbling down with a splash.

That’s when the old man woke up.”

The river closed in on us in its lament, gaining another step. A rising tide where none should be. 

“He almost tripped down the stairs, his eyes fixed on the spot where the cage used to be. Then he waded into me, slippers and trousers soaking, hands reaching out into the water. Until he found what he didn’t want to be looking for.”

We got up, tired of peering into the approaching, darkening waters. Instead, we moved to the front balcony, and looked out over the flooded surroundings. The river blanketed the earth as far as we could see.

“He cupped his calloused hands around a motionless, yellow canary, a setting sun between his palms. These hands had worked stone, cement, and brick for forty-something years; and yet they had never before held something as dead as that little bird.

I cannot get his weeping out of me.” 


At the end of their tale, the river stilled, as if awaiting judgment. We stayed silent, perched on the balcony, impassable and marble-still. No water could erode us. 

When the river finally left, we came in with the shovels, and laid what once had been to rest. Amongst the dirt, the rubble and the mud - no feather stirred.


Envoyé: 20:24 Mon, 13 December 2021 by : Rosa André Lynn age : 26