The River Charles

March 1, 2012
By , Park Ridge, IL
He settled against the tree, its ancient might stretching above and before him, its coarse skin settling into his back where its infinite and far-flung sylvan brethren had on warm days past. To him it was the same tree, the same comfort, the same awe, the same indolence that had taken idle minds in idle places for centuries past. There was no distinction between tree and man—one ageless, one consumed by age. Two immortals pressed closed. Yet he could feel more than the tree. There were the countless other idlers, lounging on the grass, the sun caressing them, lowering their books, hushing their thoughts. There was the thrum of the city, inexorable, echoing of all of mankind, placated by the breeze, led to peaceful slumber amongst the idle.
He could feel this mass of people, of things, of ideas nestled around him, soothed by the infinite warmth of the day. He opened his eyes to the glimmering cascade of manifest presence and met the river. The Charles River, glittering in the sunlight, its crevasses and waves hiding the reflection of the city, the stark black lines and obelisks of civilization fading before the light of the Sun held in a shimmering mass by this glorious expanse of fluid. His hearing opened to the soft murmur of myriad waves—the birds, leaves, cars, the very groans of Earth herself were lost to this idle whisper. The tree to his back, the faint taste of salt in the air, the moist aroma of soil beneath his clenched fingers all united in one indistinct sense, one glorious amalgam of smell, touch, and taste, all subordinate to the iridescent mass of the River and the placid sounds of idleness, the murmuring of the wind.
Then the breeze left and his ears fell from its grasp, his eyes from the light. The city reclaimed the River—looming figures swallowed the stilled expanse of water. Screams and words flowed into his ear, silencing the echoes of the serene whisper, pushing the flesh of the tree deeper into his back, the pungent odor of gasoline into his lungs. His eyes searched past the leaves, the noise, yearning for the might River Charles. Yet he could find neither the whisper, nor the light. Only a river.

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