Crossing the Bridge
7 October 2005
Railroad tracks and the sound of footsteps and the rain
beating wood planks, metal, and me, and the water
down below white ripples in moonlight and the ghosts
of drowned children. I try to hurry, but the path is wet,
slick and dangerous, and the railing insecure.
I hear voices in the slashing rain and darkness
up ahead, still a long way from home and alone:
Twelve years old, wet, cold, scared, and a long way from home.
In my mind's ear, I hear the creek rising,
creeping towards the edge of tangled weeds and grasses,
spilling into the road on the other side of the bridge,
crawling directly into the path that would take me home,
another Biblical flood in the here and now,
another encounter with the Devil and destiny,
of a kind that only poor kids have to worry about,
at least that is how my great aunt would have put it:
rich kids choose their moments of danger, thrill seeking,
tempting a Devil, who is all too ready to play games,
who is all too comfortable in suburban garb,
but who hates the poor with such a passion
that he sneaks up on them and does his dirty do
when they are most vulnerable and least prepared,
like when they are old or very young and all alone
and he can send the flood waters over the edge
in the beautiful mottled moonlit darkness.
This is what I see in my imagination
as I make my way over wet wood, and through the rain
to the other side. I feel gravel. This is the road's edge.
I squint to see in the distance, searching shadows,
the glistening borders of sight. Is that water?
Heart pounding, voices in the wind and rain,
clothes saturated, wet cold, sobbing,
I move forward with no deliberate speed,
squishy shoes crunching gravel on a maybe road home.
© 2005, Satya J. Gabriel