What Do You Know About Sadness? by Rich Ives

Many retirements ago that man decided to live in the great sleep of Cleveland. A beautiful lake lived next to a large mountain that spit out a gravel road, so that no one else liked it. That’s what he liked about it. He lived next to it, and it let him ride home safely and alone after everyone else thought the mountain was sleeping.

One evening he was Scotch. It drank him up the way it did his ancestors. He was worried by the set of knives he had used to attack dinner. They stayed sharp even when resting. He didn’t. The mountain might have been singing then. He might have been the mountain
if he had learned how to put his feet in the clouds.

How did you get here? I suppose we were engaged, but the promise of nature hadn’t caused it. Whose mountain is this?

But now you know you’re already dying, and it really is wonderful. Now you know what makes you go on living. Mortality shines its beacon on the day you leave behind, on the disease of youth. How can you take everything in if you don’t understand how it’s draining out?

One day is a child and another day is waiting for the child. I already have two hearts. Her name is Jennifer, and she can carry most of the sky. There were unnecessary gods then in a dirty church, and a strange combination of mechanical vegetables. We couldn’t seem to surprise enough sky. Who knew?

One day a forest seemed to be following us, so I turned around. There were almost enough mushrooms for a hat. It would be a gratitude. Dear ones spilling out like seed and wire. I turn to myself in the stream sometimes where night and moonlight abide, and I realize one more time we didn’t die. That’s why the man is here. That’s why everyone thinks the mountain is sleeping. No one sleeps standing up in Cleveland. Walking down a road with one end asleep and one end in the glorious sadness.


About the Author

Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.