—It’s hard to look at a river and see the river.
—What do we see then, if not the river?
—We see time. We see change.
—We don’t see water flowing by?
—We see water, but only as a metaphor for time.
—I think I see water.

They were playing Master and Novice, a game with consequences. She wore shorts and lectured at the college. He sold houses. What he wore is irrelevant, to me. But he wasn’t naked.

—What do we feel when we’re in the river?
—We feel our lives flowing past.
—We don’t feel the current that chills us?
—We might feel a chill.
—But it’s not the river that chills us?
—It might be the river.

He’d sold her her house and later, moved in. Then later, moved on. Now they were friends who came to the river, with strawberries and cheese and a sip of hard cider, to play. His pants were undone. He was winning.

—Close your eyes. What color is the river?
—Shouldn’t it be blue?
—Is that your answer?
—They’re green, or brown,
—Or red from the dyeing upstream,
—But what color is this river?
—Open your eyes.

Her lips were near when he opened his eyes. Her hand was on his leg. He kissed her and felt the chill of his life flowing past. He pulled her closer.

—What about the things the river carries?
—We are the things the river carries.
—Who sits on the banks, then?
—We sit on the others’ banks. They sit on ours.
—We sit on the banks and float downstream?

A boat flowed past. In it, a family, placidly paddling. Face down, in the boat, a naked man.

—It’s hard to look at a naked man,
—And see a naked man,
—But not impossible.

Copyright © September 03, 2007 David Hodges