The River That Runs Away From Paradise
Jéanpaul Ferro

In the green afterlife of twilight,
only seconds after you left the bar of drunken soldiers,
twelve hours after you buried your greatest loss,
buried it within the jungle, set it ablaze in leftover scraps
of funeral pyre,

the sky shuts you off from the sun, entrenches you in a darkness
that is right, the leopards watching you from their branches,

escape; where is this? death enters; it brings comfort only from the
furthest place from home, East of Eden, that desolate place of
nowhere, that place where men and woman have no names.

You dream big now, dream like you should have dreamt all along,
in the steps of Marco Polo, down to a hero’s journey, to a place you
have never seen before—Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river
in the world, the river of five colors, a place you can be no one and
nowhere at once, a place that is only recorded in the secret Atlas
of the World, the one every Mason hides on their person.

Five days later … you are lost somewhere inside of Columbia, traveling
down a dirt and pot-hole filled road, a road going through parts of
Serrania de la Macarena that only the guerrilla forces have traveled

The Earth stands still; you see a billboard ominously posted along
the way:

The war is over. … There is another life now.

Noon comes under pale blue skies; soon you can hear the river,
its cries softly out to you, like a child wailing lost far from home,
you begin to sob because it is this dream you have been drinking
just to get you along.

Your steps are slow now as you approach the river from its sand
banks, sweat dripping off of you.

A riverbed stretches out in front of you into sempiternity; yes, it is
finally right there for you:

cascades traveling atop the autumn foliage of another planet,
twenty-seven different shades of the green of Columbia shifting back
and forth—verde, esmeralda, aceituna, savia, arma; stark magenta
waterfalls, intense craters of blood-red and notoriety, cells of rainbow
floating downriver into the arched shade of the trees, yellow sand as it
sparkles under the late afternoon sun.

You stand there in disbelief. And you believe in God for that moment.
And for another lonely moment caught in experiment, a moment you
wished would have never come, you actually dream that it was the
moment before.

Jéanpaul Ferro a novelist, poet, and short fiction author from Providence, Rhode Island. His work has been featured on NPR, and in The Columbia Review, The Connecticut Review, and Contemporary American Voices. His published works include All The Good Promises (Plowman Press, 1994); Becoming X (BlazeVox Books, 2008); You Know Too Much About Flying Saucers (Thumbscrews Press, 2009); Hemispheres (Maverick Duck Press, 2009); Essendo Morti – Being Dead (Goldfish Press, 2009); and Jazz (Honest Publishing, UK, 2011).