He was not so old. Amongst his friends he was young even. But his air was heavy and he dragged his feet as the elderly do, not knowing where to really go, not knowing if they can. He talked with an arrogance, an attitude that let everyone know he knew what he was talking about and to much greater accuracy than anyone else. He listened as well with an arrogance, nodding to people's words and cutting them short and not bothering to remember any of it. He blamed his poor hearing but the cry of birds and rushing of water never missed his observation.
And as he was sick he talked endlessly about his own death. It was if he were already dead and just waiting around until someone came to pick him up and take him away to the Valley.
All he needed though, was the River. Mention it and he became a ten-year-old. Pass over it on a bridge or ride next to it on a path and he would point something out that you had never noticed before. The lines on certain large rocks. Holes in the banks. Separation of currents. And though he was an old man and already dead at that, it was clear to anyone that he was the River Man, born on its edge, controlling it in adulthood and perching above its calmer spaces in old age.
For the majority of his life the River Man moved up and down the river positioning himself mostly at the Great Falls where some of the water was issued off into canals to power the mills of the nearby town and where Salmon were ushered up every Spring through a series of water ladders from far below.
Tonight: Donovan at the Calvin