[ I fell into the riverbed in desperate search of sleep. ]

I fell into the riverbed in desperate search of sleep.
The winter melt had long since gone (the waters were not deep)
Yet Autumn’s early frost had rimed the trickling river’s tears.
Engulfed in such as this all other thinking disappears.
The mind is fixed entirely on the water’s piercing cold;
It glaciates those thoughts which bloat and burble uncontrolled.

In time I plunged my face beneath the frigid river’s rush
And listened for a moment to the water-blanket’s hush.
I gurgle-screamed a muted yell into the silted brack
Then heard a voice return my cry, in notes of craggy black.
At first its call was faint and far, but soon its withered tones
Grew thunderous, horrid, fierce enough to agitate my bones.

It was an Unremembering of early humankind
Eternal-wandering cold and darkened pathways of the mind.
An elder god, an ancient god, a god of dirt and blood,
Of thunderstorm, of avalanche, of cyclone, fire, and flood!
How old! How eminently ancient it must be, that thing
Whose name they shrieked in Proto-Neolithic worshiping.

I pulled my pallid, trembling form from out the icy stream
And fled that gross depravity, that desecrated dream.
I hurtled through the neighboring wood, until the voice was gone
Then shiver-shook while looking to the coming of the dawn.
A laughter came upon me that would neither stop nor quit;
It overtook completely in a coughing, cackling fit.

My laughter echoed through the trees to greet the morning sun
And even when it stopped my breath, the laughing was not done.
A silent pulsing beat in me with rhythmic, throbbing force,
‘Til finally I realized the stunning laughter’s source:
Those ills which caused me bathe myself in cleansing icy flame
Were faded now, forgotten as that crawling god-thing’s name.

© 2020 Thain Emrys Bertin

Image Credit: Darren Pryce/Getty Images/Imagezoo