Octopus' Garden

Sunday, December 31, 2006


All day yesterday cold rain, not enough light in the apartment, and by afternoon, I began to feel trapped. And so instead of escaping from the rain, I escaped into the rain.

December mist and sleet and wet. I was the only one who came to visit the river, and for a few moments, I might have pretended that the river belonged only to me . . . although in the end, even in my thoughts, I always give the river back to itself.

Sometimes in winter, the water's a smooth green sheet of serene jade, but yesterday, in the rain, it rippled, jostled, and splashed in a low-breathed chaotic rhetoric. The planks of the landing shimmered in the wet as if brushed in clear shellac, and the rubber soles of my hiking boots slid uneasily against the wet wood.

As I paused there, I noticed that from the West, the river had shaped itself into a large V, punctuated by a small pulsing line of something, like a blinking cursor, at the very tip or point. As it pressed forward, I saw that it was a muskrat, brisk metronome of a tail rhythmically swinging back and forth . . . tiny, determined thing that looked, for a moment, as if it were pulling the entire river behind it like an old-fashioned photographer's cape. Underneath the landing, the muskrat neatly somersaulted , as if it were a synchronized swimmer auditioning for an Esther Williams film, leaving only an ever-widening circle that was quickly erased by the current.

Locked inside houses, gray days seem colorless, but the rain steeps everything in its own essence so that it becomes even more itself . . . colors deepen, become richer and darker, and contrasts are enhanced like a Photoshop trick, or a tinted lens on a camera. The trees were beaded in bright drops of water, and the leftover dead leaves that still clung to branches looked like artistically-arranged shreds of handmade paper ⎯ all texture and transparency.

My hair darkened from dark brown to black and curled in sopping tendrils against the glistening red nylon of my wet vest. Was I being steeped in wet rain and chill mist as well? Was I becoming even more myself in that moment, I had to wonder?

In front of the suspension bridge, there was an abandoned jester's hat . . . its lavender lamé peaks, purple velvet trim, and red dangling poms a conspicuously incongruous spectacle in this unlikely setting. I was a little bit tempted to take it home with me, but left it instead for another Querant.

The bridge was treacherously slippery, the other side unpredictable with mud and fallen branches, but you know what?

I crossed it anyway.
posted by Artichoke Heart at 8:42 PM


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Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Radish King, at 11:02 PM  

happy new year to you.
Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:10 AM  
This is gorgeous.

Happy new year!

Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:36 PM  
Happy New Year to you, Artichoke Heart!

Thank you for sharing this! We often do a new year's tarot reading, but never so poetically as this!

Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:45 PM  
This is the best thing I've read so far this year. Beautiful. Happy new year!
Blogger Dr. Medusa, at 11:06 AM  

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