Where the Night is Black and Uninvaded

by Scott E. Rupp


The muddy river is dying. At one time a deep channel cut through the prairie, but now only small streams have splintered off this way and that searching a course in which to flow. The valley is filling with sand, the result of the Depression and FDR’s New Deal, which created jobs that created dams that stole the river away.

On summer nights millions and millions of stars light the forgotten riverbed, while only the eyes of the dead and aliens from distant worlds watch you.

If you have no friends, cigarettes will do, filling your soul like good conversation while the sedation of blowing prairie grass growing along the side of the bluff blends with the song of the bullfrogs that long to fulfill the most common necessity of nature.

Deep in the shawl of darkness, alone except for the soul of the boy who shot himself on the beach and the soldiers who lay buried on the historic battleground, the dying river trickles past. The waters of the once mighty river lazily drift on the gravity of the moon’s rotation around bars of sand that paralyze the meandering course. Stagnant water becomes the home of beer cans, charred remains of wood ready to sink and the decaying bodies of carp.

Across the river of mud, past sand bars that grow maples and diseased oaks, atop the rocky bluffs of another state, is perched an expiring town built by the pioneer folk who floated their wagons to the other side. Opposite the soldiers’ graves chiseled with names and ranks, and opposite the dirt paths that wind through the headstones, stand houses with numbers painted on their sides and streets of gravel that are filled with potholes.

There in that town across the river, a town much like mine, lights go out one after another. There, next to the river that’s losing its course, the last light is extinguished as another cigarette goes “phfft” in the water where it is thrown. Only the stars and the souls of dead men will forever remember this place, where the night is black and uninvaded.


Copyright © 2009 by Scott E. Rupp

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