At the bottom of my parents’ property there is a river which is usually more like a creek. There’s an embankment next to the water. A miniature hill with a steep climb to relief from the humidity. I stand on the sand that runs parallel to the rise of dirt. A place that is now cleansed from the water that rushed through here when the river broke its banks.
The wind moves through the trees with twisted trunks and the leaves dance, whispering to each other about the goannas resting and the caterpillars ready to transform. I walk, keeping watch for brown snakes sunbaking on the rough pebbles and avoid pools of water that are quickly becoming stagnant. I study the water, searching for tadpoles or fish wondering how they got so far from home.
I reach the rock, displaced during the last flood it stands like a monument to its own ability to anchor during a once-in-100-year flood event. It stands waist high and the top of the rock is smooth – the perfect place to sit and watch the thoughts of him move through my mind. I climb up and sit, tucking my feet under my thighs. The warmth of the stone fills me with energy and I watch filtered sunlight trickle down between the now still leaves.
I inhale the sweet smell of lantana and feel my lungs come alive with the pink and yellow of the blooms. I close my eyes and listen. Rainbow lorikeets chatter overhead while swinging around clinging to the branches, drunk on the sweet nectar of the red blooms of the blackbean tree. Skinks rustle in the few leaves that are scattered at the base of the rock. The sound of water rushing past isn’t far away. Occasionally there’s clinking in the water, the torrent moving rocks and causing them to call out to my altar, “We miss you.”
The wind starts again and a waterfall of leaves cascade down. For a moment the birds are quiet. The lizards are quiet. The clinking rocks and rushing water is quiet. There are no tadpoles or fish to worry about. The leaves that are not ready to fall are once again dancing and whispering. But this time they are calling his name and reminding me of the space he left.
* * * * *
Any writing workshop or class I take tends to have assessments or required submissions as part of the program. This one is from a current course I’m taking with the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program – Stories of Place: Writing and the Natural World. It’s not my intention to share a polished piece (I’d never share it if I wanted to edit it to perfection), so there may be grammatical or typographical errors.