In a River at the Festival

We only watched people go by sitting on the river, our bodies limp from dancing the night before and roasting in the morning sun. Music festivals always brought the oddest people together. A blonde girl with curls down to her shoulders stood on a cliff downstream. The cliff was no taller than a man if he was standing on the water, but it was the place to go because of the deeper pool of dark green, cool water that lay beneath it signaling a place to plunge. Her breasts were bare, like many of the women in the camp, but two handprints made of paint were smattered on her pink, pale skin that took the place of a bathing suit top. One handprint was a mixture of black and blue and the other a mixture of blue and red, but not enough to make purple. She jumped in the river and disappeared into the darkness. When she emerged after a long awaited, anticipatory period, her paint had lost some of its luster. The blue and black and red ran down her slightly overweight stomach, like mascara from weeping eyes. Her pink, red pupils now showed themselves to the spectators, her obliviousness making it much more appealing. She lay down face first on her tie-dye skirt, and put her hands above her head, only exposing the sides of her breasts and the untended hair beneath her arms. Next to us, a man asked passer-bys if they would like to buy a twenty dollar framed picture of Bill Nershi, the sixty-odd year old front man of String Cheese Incident. “I’m sellin’ this photo of the Billy. Need some cash for that pizza bread they got on shakedown street and ice.” Most declined to the smiling portrait of the strummer looking to the sky for inspiration. The large smile exposed his yellow teeth, and his gray hair reflected the lights from the stage. His beard, full and bushy, sponge-like in texture, was the true testament of the man’s age. He had been playing his old acoustic for a while, but their farewell tour signaled the end of a time when the man would be able to play with his old friends on the stage. A couple stood upstream, walking slowly to where we were sitting. The water rushed around their ankles, making little whirlpools n the process. He was wearing a pony-tail with an orange tie that accentuated his long black hair. His chin held a goatee, his skin was a yellow-tan, and his eyes held a slight slant that was mirrored in his son’s. His son was a sat in a hammock like contraption on the front of his mother’s chest. The mother’s long red hair flowed down her shoulders splitting between her chest and back. Through the red strands, a purple bathing suit top was visible, and her red skin, from the sun, looked painful and beautiful all at once. Others were nearby building a rock tower in shallow water. This was an attempt to pass the day in a cool spot while eluding the boredom of the day, until the late night concerts started. Flat rocks stood on top of each other, a monument to their pagan god. A car radio from a campsite near the creek played faint music for the bathers. A man and his wife swayed slowly in the river, standing in a knee-deep section. Slowly they danced his hand on the small of her back, hers on his wide shoulders. The other hands grasped each other, fingers interlocking and creating a turtle shell with eight lateral plates. Like the sun and the moon they danced around the earth. Their child was in between them in his mother’s womb. This was the first time all three of them would dance, but they would again at the boy’s wedding, and in their dining room listening to “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog.” Now only a slow saxophone, with single guitar riff, and a steady drum beat fed their movement. The boy nestled in the warmth, eyes closed, felt the slight vibrations of the music and the nature that surrounded him. The father let go of his lover’s hand, and places it on her stomach, searching for texture on a globe. The drummer patters the cymbals, and they look into each other’s eyes. It was so hot. We had to stay in the river. We sat and watched the people go by.
Sun 3/21/2010 3:10 PM