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Midnight River in Daylight

The drops of the cold, ephemeral midnight river glided on the edge of your hands as I sat beside you, listening to you telling tales from your past – that first heartbreak; the sip of ice tea you took in a state of fever when the kids rode their bikes outside; the first letter you inscribed on the tree in your mother’s back porch and how it made her smile; accounts of details flashing before your blood-shot eyes. As passing seconds were sticking to your sweaty skin like honey, I watched in a hazy longing desire as those details fell from your eyes and I wished to catch and wrap them around with the lessons I had learnt. And yet all that falls looks free, forever the less wholesome when it finally hits the ground, much like snow.

‘I was a bird in another lifetime. And a slight feather perched on your shoulder before that. Did you never notice me, or feel what and who I was?’ The pause too long, you had a weight in your question I could never lift. Perhaps, I did not think I could as I could never be sure. Surety comes with faith…a coin I lost in the valley of my eternal emptiness.
‘A bird or a dead heartbeat, it doesn’t matter. You will fade away into the summer too, like the desert winds and sand grains I got lost in.’

‘Maybe I can be that desert breeze for you to dissolve into…’ the more in your tone, a more of everything, keeps me satiated with a hunger to plead for forgiveness – forgiveness from my lack of judgment in times you suffered. I always took you for a misery dressed up for show.
‘Breezes are too soft a tool to rip apart these transient wounds off of both our souls, yours and mine. These walking people stare at us when we disclose a little of ourselves. They view them pretty lights in our eyes as the ones lighting up the carnivals in our minds. Little do they know those lights are all the candles we left burning in the funeral of life, after that life died within us.’

You drape yourself in the armor of the night’s deafening silence and say, ‘Whether you know it or, all of us sing through those breezes. All you have to do is make an orchestra to listen to your voice. Every once in a while, you compose a heart-rendering melody in which you open up about your ghosts of past, the thorns of your present and intrigues of what is yet to be written down in your life’s book. And you sing it all away with your vocal chords giving off frequencies of pain you endure with their every single vibration. You pick up the pieces, choose to open up more and let them destroy you inside out.’

‘But what if the orchestra is too deaf to hear all that, or worse…what if it is too naïve to pick up on those frequencies?’, I ask you with a mixture of blue skies and shredded clouds in my throat.
Holding the goblet of honesty in your hands, you reply, ‘Oh, the orchestra is always there. Sitting behind clouds of misconception erected by the clashes between society and logic. It sits there like dead sentinels and your job is to wake them all up from that slumber. Then there is no way they will not listen. After all, the firefly still looks for a guiding path home once it brightens up.’

I tell you the orchestra I hold in my grasp is too far gone. I remember the corners of my reality and everything I had believed in growing up stiffening as you tell me about it. In that case, we have to build an orchestra inside ourselves. We have to learn to open up to ourselves first and foremost…otherwise, an infinite melody will die a captured art within us, without any spectators marching up to it. That was the day you set an image for me – one I inhale on every passing moment. An image you showed me of how the river stains the sun and makes the daylight creatures listen to its passing waves. There are untold, hushed stories sailing up and down on all those waves, you tell me. And, the sun and the daylight creatures are their orchestra…young and blinded.


Written by: Tehreem Ali