(I have several versions of this written later – this is from a scrap of paper so I presume it is the first)
March 10, 1979
Who counts the reeds in winter, the dancing magicians tumbling head over heals with the frost, waving them straight and stiff in a sea of tan hair turned white upon the distant shore?
They are like soldiers dedicated to some foreign war, their drilled to the wave of a wand or the crack of the wind whipping them back into line.
Theirs is an ice-sleeved uniformed magic stirred to the beat of the traffic that passes over the arches of the old bridge, keeping guard to the thunder and rumble of wheels as alien to their world as Ezekiel’s wheel.
To keep they company, plastic cups float freely in the few melted spaces or rub shoulders with the roots of oak trees at the short, or even the praying metal spokes children’s boys that poke up out of the brown water growing brown themselves with the rust, all – reeds, bottles and toys – reaching desperately towards the sky that is beyond their grasp.
Who counts the reeds when the last wand passes and the ice-enslaved leaves break free, and bleed into the thawing water, or the trunks of trees crack, or the frozen branches snap – like bones suffering of age and surrender to the reality of passing years, rarely with but a whimper of cry, either to unfold and grow, or die?
The bloated gulls that hang above them do not count anything, but the few slivers of silver fish they snatch from the glistening surface, nor do the constantly complaining geese who themselves float in the free water like royalty, nor their smaller cousins, the ducks who mumble under their breath about the change, uncertain if it brings good or ill omens. The waving wand of wind gives them all other tasks to do at this time of year, casting their lot in with the rising of spring and the yet to be seen green that shows but hints at the tips of limbs, and the whisper of new reeds rising side by side with the frozen reeds, to rise up and take their place when the warmth finally comes.