Stream's Descent

- Primula

"They had trudged for more than an hour when they heard a sound that brought them to a halt. Unbelievable but unmistakable. Water trickling. Out of a gully on the left...water came dripping down: the last remains, maybe, of some sweet rain gathered from sunlit seas but ill-fated to fall at last upon the walls of the Black Land....Here it came out of the rock in a little falling streamlet, flowed across the path, and turning south ran away swiftly to be lost among the dead stones." - The Return of the King

Gathered from the essence of a far-off sea,
Curtains of mist rain down,
Folding about the grasses, drawing gentle lines in the dust.
Cold rock faces bedew, weeping -
A cloak of rain passes,
Leaving tatters of silver cloth:
Pools that shine, rivulets that gather strength
Streaming over the golden-green mosses,
Touching and giving life.
Tall summer reeds stand,
Cut briefly bubbling notches into the silken flow;
Raindrops ripple and are lost as quickly as they fall.

The colors of the sea reflect in the
Nodding streamside plants,
Water-heavy with their beaded stems,
Swaying and springing back and forth, gently
Releasing their water-pearls to the ground.
The parched earth reclines, darkens and softens;
Drinking its fill.
Clear water, brown water, sweet water -
Surges in a sudden rush and sparkle
Spilling downward in bright singing armfuls
To fill the silence of night and day.

Like small waves in sunlight,
Startled water-ringlets leap in a fine opal froth;
Miniature cataracts tumble,
Consuming wandering brown leaf-boats;
Freed from their boughs for short maiden voyages,
They twirl about, dancing while they can...
Swept broadside, they wash under without complaint.
But with every mile that passes,
It's voice is diminished...
The stream gives of itself to the land, it's strength failing.
The glistening drops of liquid,
So precious to the weary and the lost, grow few.
Barren lands and desert air partake of greedy portions
As it descends.

It fills each new-found depression, and
Drops over each edge only to fill again.
Slowly, bit by bit drawn away, weakening -
No more than a strand of crystal beads
Slow handfuls lie like pendants,
Small pools reflecting the sky wherever they can;
Varied pearls set in ice among the stones,
Strung upon their watery silver chain.
A small, small voice whispering in the wilderness.

Slipping down through the dark, cold cinders,
It sings its gentled tune softly
For the weary wanderers.
How their heavy hearts are lifted by its song!
Their spirits and bodies have panted in the dust
From a path of despair and the agony of great need.
They seek out it's voice, and receive its gift.
It wets their parched, cracked lips,
Sweeter than honey-mead on their acrid tongues,
More soothing than a lover's embrace,
Comfort and fulfillment,
And in their desperate journey,
The irreplaceable gift of time.

The treasures of their hearts pale beside
This rarest of sweet sea-gifts
Freely given in the midst of their nightmare.
It runs through their fingers, cool and soft,
A balm to the body and the soul.
Life-giving water in a dead, dry land.
Life-giving hope, lending them strength,
That they might know their end has
Not yet come.
The gift of time, before frail life is spent.
Water above all praise.
Life beyond all hope.

The last drops slowly cross the slanting path.
Dying, the streamlet turns
Seeking out a silent grave in this barren land,
It's long wanderings done.
Nameless rocks offer but little remembrance
To its final voiceless resting place.
It silently seeps into the dust and is no more.

Not in vain, the gift of essence
To a thankless land,
This spark of life, however small,
This soft echo of singing from the sunlit seas;
Gathered for a purpose,
Cupped in brown hobbit hands.

Well and honorably spent.