“Wisdom by the River.” Fiction. Based on a True Weariness.

“She told us of stone mother,
Whose tears filled the river”

—Nikki Wicz

“Wisdom by the River” 

Fiction. Based on a True Weariness. 

By Leanna Glenn Markham

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.

I have been in that place where the branch overhangs the water,
perfect, parallel, patient.
I am not the branch,
just the one admiring its strength,
wanting to walk out on it,
daring it to support me in my weariness.

I have wanted it to sway a hair’s breadth, acknowledging my weight
but saying, “I’ve borne much more than you
and the burden on your bent shoulders.”

I have wanted to look down at the stirring stream
and wonder at its current,
muse at its chill,
touch one toe in and pull it back.

Not ready.

A breeze stirs the limbs above me,
arcing over the place where I would settle and sit
mesmerized by shimmers.
The wind carries pictures, remembrance.

It speaks of another stream,
a river surging when the gates opened,
and pushed me, despite my flailing,
toward a jutting stone.
Shin hit rock.
Inner tube flew and dropped far downstream.

Remember? The breeze asks me. Remember?
How in your pain you tried
to draw your knees to your chest
and hadn’t quite the strength?
Remember how in the midst of your fear
You marveled at the sheer power of water,
and loved that moment?

Can you hear the voice of your friend
who called from the bank, “Don’t panic”?
Can you feel how fright and tension drained
from body and soul,
knowing you were seen and loved,
even before you found your way out?

The wind shifts a bit, blowing upward.
You see, weary one, sometimes
you need a rest. A place to look upon
tear-filled streams. But other times,
You need to look upward.
Let my voice stir your mind,
And lift your heart.
If I’ve given you a burden to carry,
I’ve infused you with the strength
for the journey.
Know your moments,
learn your days.
For it’s not only rest that increases strength.


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