THE MAGIC RIVER / by Joseph Castorino

 

Act I

When Nerina was six

Years old and her sister

Clarissa was five,

Petrio, the sage old prophet,

Paid an unexpected visit

To their happy family;

As they were all sitting

Around a fire on the hearth,

He told the young girls

What would happen when

They came of age --

If they chose well;

He said they were both

Destined to marry well,

To handsome princes,

And he explained the

Beautiful life that awaited them

When they finally came of age

At the ripe age of sixteen;

Clarissa clung tightly to

Every single word

That Petrio uttered,

While Nerina was lost

In daydreaming and

Didn’t pay much attention;

When Petrio was almost finished,

He firmly cautioned each of them

Not to get distracted because

The river can be very deceptive;

He advised them to keep

Their attention and remain

Completely focused on

Safely reaching the prince

That awaited each of them;

But the impatient Nerina

Didn’t hear a word he said.

 

Act II

There, in the distance,

Atop that mystical mountain,

Is a grandiose garden

That is ringed by a crown of

The most radiant roses;

From it gushes forth

A crystalline river

That sparkles in the sun

Like dazzling diamonds;

One day a red-haired

Beauty who had

glistening green eyes

Had come of age, so

She entered a little

Black boat and

Began to row;

It was Nerina

And she looked forward

To finally meeting

Her magic prince

At the garden’s

Golden gate, and,

Indeed, far far above

Her, far beyond

Her view,  a fair-haired

Youth was standing

Amidst the glorious roses;

Nerina started continued rowing

Uphill towards the garden,

But the water was so smooth

And so wonderfully silky

That she closed her eyes

And gradually fell asleep;

When she awakened,

Her boat had drifted

Far far downstream

From where she had started;

She noticed that the water

Had changed color and

Was now a pretty pink,

And she saw that

In the distance it

Was a fantastical fuchsia;

Nerina was captivated

By its vibrant color --

then fragrant fruit trees

Caught her attention,

And for quite some time

She became mesmerized by

The lush forest of fine fruit trees

That came right to the banks

Of the magical river;

The trees were loaded with fresh,

Sweet-scented tropical flowers

That bloomed forth like a

Veritable rainbow of color;

She closed her green eyes,

Smiled, and soaked in

These romantic delights with

A heart filled with wonder.

 

Act III

But she didn’t notice that

The river became steeper,

And the water was now

Traveling at a greater velocity;

Suddenly, Nerina’s boat was jerked by

A powerful current that quickly

Snapped her out of her reverie;

Nerina now found herself

Tumbling through blood-red rapids

That were alarmingly getting

Warmer and warmer;

A few minutes later, the water

Was starting to boil and

The boat started to burn;

As she looked for an escape

To the shore, she saw to her dismay

That everything had

Dramatically changed;

Tall twisted trees, blackened

And charred by the intensifying

Heat, hung their weakened

Arms over the fiery-red

River, as if imploring Nerina

To paddle back upstream;

But it was too late,

And soon her face became

Frightfully disfigured,

Melting like molten wax

In the lava-like flood;

The wicked waters raged into

The rapidly-darkening gloom,

While storm clouds savagely

Circled the mountain and

Lightning, falling like jagged

Spears, lit up the malevolent sky;

Then Nerina, with her bloodshot

Green eyes ready to explosively

Burst like globular bubbles,

Screamed in terror as she

Plunged over the edge of the

Cliff and tumbled into the

Open jaws of the abyss,

But her chilling shriek was

Silenced as her torso was

Skewered by one of the

Dagger-like rocks that

Jutted out from the

Fiery lake in the

Black void of death.

 

Act IV

It was precisely one year

After the mysterious

Disappearance of Nerina,

And so, now it was

Clarissa’s turn to enter

The river since she had

Come of age and was

Sixteen years old;

Although she had no

Idea of what had become

Of her sister Nerina,

She remembered clearly

The words of Petrio;

So she entered a white boat

On the river with a degree of

Fear and trepidation,

Wondering what would

Happen to her next;

She immediately noticed

That she was beginning

To drift slowly downstream,

To she took up the paddle

And began to row,

Steering the little boat

In the opposite direction;

She did so patiently,

With her beautiful arms

Pulling long, slow, elegant

Strokes through the water;

Clarissa rowed for hour

After laborious hour,

And although she was tired,

For some inexplicable reason

She actually felt that

She was getting stronger;

Clarissa was so focused

On Petrio’s prophecy

That she didn’t notice

That the terrain had

Totally transformed;

The shining sun was soaked up

By the sugar-white sand dunes

That now surrounded the river;

A whirling wind whipped

Over the surface of the water,

Scourging it and purifying it;

Even the water had changed

Into a cloudy pearl color,

And it seemed to breathe in

The sunlight and absorb it;

Clarissa noticed none of

These things but continued

Pressing on towards her goal

Like a champion athlete;

When the sun set and night fell,

She finally paused to rest;

Reclining in the boat, she

Looked up into the starry sky;

Clusters of stars brightened and

conquered the black of night,

Then, one by one,

Several moons of various

Colors and sizes rose

Above the horizon --

But the most beautiful

Of them was surrounded by

An exquisitely gold ring

That swiftly and magnificently

Spun around a silver moon;

Clarissa allowed all of this

To soak deeply into

The depths of her soul;

The next morning,

She awakened from

Her restful slumber

With renewed strength,

So she rowed vigorously,

And pursued her goal

With a single-minded

Drive and determination;

After a short while her

Surroundings were

Transforming yet again --

But this time she observed it all.

 

Act V

The desert sand was

Gradually tapering off,

And it was replaced by

Rich, verdant lawns;

Then she saw the summit

Of the mountain and

Noticed that it was crowned

By a resplendent garden;

This garden was ringed

By a crown of rose bushes,

And flowing from the center

Of the garden was a stunning

Waterfall that was translucent,

And its color was aquamarine pearl;

Behind the waterfall there was a

Wall of gold that was trimmed

With silver, and gemstones

Were set here and there,

sparkling brilliantly through

The crystalline waters of the

breathtaking waterfall;

So Clarissa paddled gently

Until she reached a small

Pier at the base, and there

She stepped out of her boat;

When she did so, she suddenly

Became aware that she now

Wore a gown that was

Dazzlingly white, and

it was embroidered with

the very same gems that

she saw behind the waterfall;

Clarissa began to ascend a

Spiral staircase of gold that

Was also trimmed with silver,

but the handrails were adorned

With fine little diamonds that

Sparkled happily in the sun;

Then she heard a strong, soothing

Voice and eagerly looked up,

With a sweet smile on her face

And her eyes twinkling

With hopeful delight;

There, standing next to

The cascade of water was a

Handsome, fair-haired young man

who was also dressed in white,

And he wore a stately

Crown upon his head;

Clarissa slowly walked

Up the staircase to the

Glorious garden above,

And it all seemed like

A lovely dream to her;

When she stood before

The prince, face to face,

He knelt down and

Slipped the finest of rings

On her innocent finger;

Then it was her turn to

Kneel before him, and

He gently placed a stunning

Diadem upon her head;

With that, the wind danced

Between the two of them,

Rushing through the garden

With great jubilation;

It was worth the wait for Clarissa --

Her happiness knew no bounds

As she prepared to fulfill her

Destiny in a grand new life.