The sunlight sloughs off the water like runny makeup in many shades. It plants its contrite kiss hotly upon the river, a kiss for cold months past. A murky undercurrent vanishes beneath iridescent rays and just thawed fall leaves continue their wet burial unseen. Like a reassuring parent, the river’s face shines untroubled. Just a tension at its edge implies the harsh memory of winters beyond numbers, of a winter just departed.
Battle-hardened grass dots the ground where it was garrisoned against the chill, its leaves brown as dust. Each tuft eyes warily the callow green blades en- closing it. Dandelions smile rakishly, yellow faces too young for frowns. A lone duck wanders the shallows without thought for frozen rivers past. The fowl floats downstream. A torrid summer sun professes never to leave for the horizon or sulk wanly behind snow-laden clouds.
The air shifts lightly in a breeze, depositing spores in the nose, eyes, and ears. The pollen dulls sound as it wriggles towards the eardrums. The nose ceases to function, and inundated eyes stream tears which blur sight. The world tastes hot and dry and sweet as it enters the mouth, like a vestige of chocolate that stays an hour on the tongue. The muted silence that evokes children playing – so often coupled with hot days – is notably absent now.
Gnarled trunks cast the only shade upon luxuriant flowers (rejecting such coddling). Many, bloom brashly in the open, accepting the world eagerly from atop lithe green stems. The heat withers each nubile blossom. The petals soon crinkle shut to hold their last life’s blood from oozing beneath the sun.
Swaths of earth lie unbroken by fresh growth. Mounds of goose excrement, leaves, and blanched branches litter the ground, set together at random by the cycle of snow and thaw. Each mound evokes some lonely war monument, its conflict, however recent and unresolved, consigned from thought to history in clearing space for the ever-hopeful future. Old traumas, once forgotten, surely will not come again, and memory despises clutter.
Among the sternest old stumps dotting the banks are those ringed with new, florid growth. Each bud wrestles for attention. The bark beneath creaks in still air, old and reprimanding; its recollections wither unheeded. What do spring’s children care for winter? Winter is a memory, cold and dead and faded.