That Thing Hanging from a Branch Over the River

Suddenly the cold. Suddenly the wind. Suddenly the skies darken again.

Just last Saturday the guys came to put up the storms. Again. Summer just fled. The days of gentle delicious night breezes cooling off my feet. Gone. The vast twittering of birds at 5:30 a.m. No matter what else was going on the birds at 5:30 a.m. are delirious joy. Waking up and walking in the still dark, hearing the birds, feeling them hiding in the bushes beside you, brush by swiftly as they swoop up and out again to reach the moon before the sun flings out again. Then the slow trickling of raspberry, peach, and lemon gold swirls in the sky. Flickering neon of citrine, tangerine, and red. Like a tidal wave of new blood washing over you, so deep and slow and sure, with such profound vein bursting joy you could almost sing.

I still go out these October mornings when the air is freezing cold, the garden almost black, clutching the hot bitter coffee longing to see the garden flowers again. You can see even in the deep shadows the purple morning glories. Sometimes just one or two but you see them, really see them, the bell shape, the velvet darkness. Dark upon dark, freezing cold, the blueberry skin reveals itself and that flower rings out like Notre Dame cathedral, like the crazy old hunchback hanging on for dear life, pulling and pulling that heavy old rope and screaming while the bell rings with joy.

The leaves are not really turning yet, not into brilliant scarlet or orange or yellow. Bronzes mostly. Mahogany. Plum. Olive. A little dull a little sad. I am still waiting.

No rain. So dry. No rain for a month almost. The garden needs water but the garden is so cold now and dry, if I water too late it will freeze up like the Tundra. The Moulin Rouge dahlias are so red! Blood red. Mac lipstick Diva red. Ox blood, scarlet, vermilion …..Today there will be a deep freeze and I should gather all the big fat flowers before they die. So many buds still left to bloom!

I waited Monday for the bus by the river. Watching leaves float by. Monday was so warm. 70’s. So rosy and sunny and blue sky breezy. Maples, Lindens, Oaks, Hackberries, Locusts, Red buds. All the leaves floating gently down the river.

Last week I saw a dozen ducks. Now they are gone.

Last week I saw pieces of gold brocade cloth floating in shreds down the river.

Last week I saw gold coins swirling around and around all the ducks as they twirled in circles in the crystal water….

Looking down at the river and then south to where the water rushed past.. How clear the water is, I could see all the way to the bottom.

Then I noticed something hanging from a branch above the water about twenty feet away and fifteen feet below me, as I stood watching from the bridge.

It looked frightening, like a long wizened rat or beaver or rabbit or maybe cat, that some cruel thing killed and hung out to dry, dangling there like a hanged man.

I strained to see what it was. Human. It had a human head, a definite nose and pointy, fleshy ears. It looked like a man, a puppet. Like Pinocchio, the nose sharp and long.

It was so elongated so worn out and old. The body tapered down into two little human feet. It looked like a sad marionette wearing fancy Italian slippers. Like a ragged snowman about to melt leaving only his scarf and carrot stick.

No, it was definitely a stretched out rat. A very long beaver rat with mottled swampy skin, stretched out so long, almost touching the water.

It looked so forlorn just hanging there in the wind. It was light but heavy enough to appear weighted down and yet wave gently in the breeze like a tattered hankerchief…. and I wondered how it has managed to stay there for almost a week (I have watched it for a week). Trying in vain to know what it is.

Half human half rat half monster and half sad. Oh, dear, looking closer I think it looked a little like me. Felt like me. Hanging. Waving. Lost. Bedraggled. Old. Tired. About to give up. Speechless. Prayerless. What is left to pray for?

One more velvet morning glory in the dark. One more walk around the garden in the cold. One more icy breath while looking at the citrine sky.

Now it looks like a Venetian Mask. The scary beautiful wicked slightly cruel mysterious Venetian Mask. Reminds me of that picture of Klaus Von Bulow in “Vanity Fair” when he was accused of poisoning his wife…. he wore very fancy embroidered slippers….

It looks monstrous, ghoulish, frightening, fearful, ugly, repulsive, lonely, tortured, dirty, swampy, deadly,…..

I stare and stare and stare not knowing still what it is. Human or rag, moss or animal. Spirit, ghoul, monster or sprite.

A young woman walks by and I stop her, apologize for interrupting her walk and ask her to look at that thing and does she know what it is..

“It looks like maybe a piece of moss hanging from the …it must have got caught on the tree… but now…….. yes, I see, it looks like a—-face…Oh My…. God.. now it’s creeping me out!”… and she walks away.

I stare at the poor hanging creature and wonder what makes it so sad and lonely, so melancholy. The hands, it has two tiny hands clutching at one another and folded almost neatly against its breast. The hands look like they are praying praying praying hard and fast for comfort, for release, for something, a sign , a word, a look, or maybe just for someone to cut the string above and let it go. Just let it go to float away forever, gently, surely, slowly, following the ducks, the brocade, the maples and the geese…..

About O

I live in a suburb of an American City. I write to try and understand myself and the world around me. I love nature, art, music, literature and beauty in all its forms. I love food. But then food is a whole other world.... I think the world has gone mad and many of us will soon go insane from living in this world. What I love almost more than anything is my garden. I love its trees its shrubs and its many flowers. I love the birds, their flying and singing and dancing movements in and out of the sky and garden. Their freedom. I could watch birds all day long. They always bring joy. I love to work in my garden. To get muddy and dirty, digging, weeding, mowing, pruning and deadheading. Then, I like to have a cool glass of white wine or red, or sometimes a Manhattan, and drink in hand, I walk around and look at the fruits of my labor. And that walk each and every day in my little paradise.. because that is what gardens are.... brings me almost complete joy... My blog is whennothingworks because for a long time nothing has worked. Friends, family, jobs, money, houses, careers, lovers, things--- it all just doesn't work sometimes, or most of the time. The garden always works. Nature and its beauty always work. And, in my garden, I can sit quietly and think, or just breathe, and somehow manage to survive the world.
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2 Responses to That Thing Hanging from a Branch Over the River

  1. Natalie says:

    Really beautiful. The winter-lover in me sees autumn differently, but reading that piece was a lovely look at another point of view.


  2. O says:

    Thank you ladycee. I believe you.


    On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 12:09 PM, whennothingworks wrote:


    Liked by 1 person

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