Bridge

i built a bridge today
in the spot where the last one burned
no fault of my own
i shouted at the time
standing in the red glow
while the anger sang
build a bridge then burn it
fall in love then spurn it
grab a wheel then turn it
all around the world

i built it with sticks and twine
spittle and grime
mind the gap
i said to the wind
standing in the dappled sunshine above the dark water
and the tension sang
flick a switch to light it
raise a fist to fight it
pull the oar to right it
all around the world

i worked my hands raw

knotting and tying

and it held

and i crossed

and that is all that matters now

It may seem like I’ve taken a year off from writing, but that simply isn’t true.  I’ve spent a great deal of time writing and reflecting, and feel moved to once again share some things.  Enjoy.

First Date

She met him on the steps of her front porch, standing in the rain, with drops falling from the brim of her floral print hat. She held one arm tight to her side, and rested the hand of the other arm on an old valise. Behind her, in a large pile on the porch, was an assortment of suitcases and handbags.

“I come with baggage you know,” she said.

“That’s ok,” he replied, “Can I help carry some?”

He leaned slightly and tried to look behind her.

She leaned with him, obstructing his view, and replied, “No, they’re mine to carry, just mine, I can manage.”

“Suits me,” he replied with a shrug, “Where do you want to eat?”

“Anywhere is fine,” she said, “But someplace with lots of space between the tables, for, you know,” she said, glancing behind, “Maybe a place where we can sit outside?”

She stooped to gather up the first of her bags and he instinctively stepped forward to help.

“No,” she turned, “I can do it.”

-

The back of his car sagged as they drove down town, the trunk stuffed with the larger suitcases, and the back seat filled with handbags, backpacks, and a purse or two . The engine struggled on the uphill rises, and the brakes complained at every stop.

She sat in the passenger seat, holding her small clutch in her lap while she watched the downpour turn to a trickle through her window.

He took a moment to look over his shoulder at the bags, then at her in the passenger seat, and finally returned his eyes to the road.

“That’s quite a few bags,” he said.

“Yes, well, I’ve been around, seen a lot, mostly visiting, sometimes staying. Either way you sort of build up a collection over time you know? You move from one place to the next and there are the things you want to take with and there are the things that just seem to follow you.”

“Some of them look nice,” he said.

“They all look nice on the outside,“ she replied.

-

They ate on the boardwalk. They bought hot dogs from a gourmet hot dog stand, and he carefully wiped drops of rain off two chairs with a napkin before they sat.

“Don’t you have any?” she asked between bites.

“Any what?” he replied.

“Bags,” she said, looking over at hers all haphazardly stacked beside the table.

“I do actually. I have about as many as you, maybe one or two more. I keep them at home in a room at the end of the hall,” he said, turning a bit red and looking away.

“And you can just do that? You can just leave them at home?”

“Well, not really. Even though they aren’t here I still feel the weight. It’s like I’m carrying all of them even though you can’t see them.”

“Do you ever let anyone see them?”

“No. I only open that door to put another bag in. Other than that it’s always closed.”

-

On the drive back the setting sun, breaking through the clouds, forced him to put down his visor.

Halfway to her house he turned towards her to capture in his mind the way she looked; her profile framed by the car window with the blurred city as a background.

A few minutes later, with his eyes returned to the road ahead, she looked over at him, and admired the way his strong hands gripped the steering wheel.

-

He left her at the spot where the sidewalk from her house met the street. And after she had finished unloading, they parted with an almost kiss on the cheek that ended in an awkward hug.

As he drove back onto the road he noticed her clutch lying on the passenger seat. Turning his signal light on he made a u-turn and headed back to her house.

She had gone inside by the time he returned, and after shifting the car into park, he reached over to grab her clutch, and then stopped, and instead opened his door, climbed out, and walked up to her front door.

He rang the doorbell and waited. A few moments later she answered, a smile on her face.

“You forgot something,” he said.

“What?”

“Your clutch. It’s still in the car where you left it, I, ugh, I didn’t touch it,” he offered.

She ran to the car and grabbed it, and then brushed by him on her way back into her house. She turned and came back and on tip toes kissed him, for real this time, on the cheek.

“Thanks for that,” she said.

“No problem, I was hardly even a mile gone.”

“No, not for bringing it back, I mean thanks for that too, but what I mean is thanks for not touching it, for letting me go and get it myself. That was sweet.”

She turned to go back into her house and then turned back towards him.

“Would you like to go out again,” she asked.

“How about Tuesday?” he replied.

Author’s Note:  I’ve always wanted to write a short short story about first dates, and the baggage we all carry, but in a way where the characters each glimpse a better tomorrow in spite of the weight.  I fretted over this one quite a bit, and most likely put far more time into than was required to tell this siimple story.  I wanted it to be subtle, but bold in style at the same time.  Enjoy.

Connecting today with Imperfect Prose.

Jonas

Jonas was a quiet man
But not because he didn’t have anything to say

He was quiet
Because in his soul
Kindness and anger wrestled
And in his heart
Kindness and anger danced

He was quiet
Because he was afraid
That if he opened his mouth
He wouldn’t be able to control
Which one would speak

Harmony

each of us
is made up of
three parts

one part worth
one part beauty
one part mystery

each of us
is given
three tasks

seek out the worth in everyone

seek out the beauty in everyone

and patiently listen when someone shares their mystery

Author’s Note:  Constructed this from a comment I made earlier this week.  I think it works.  Sharing today with Dverse and Imperfect Prose.

Her Strength Is Her Love

she runs one hundred miles per hour
from the place that she is
to the place that she has to go

snatching at the memories
birthed in her periphery
before they are blurred
by her velocity

wind tugs at her hair
and she marvels at her speed
not knowing that her strength is her love

she carries one hundred pounds
on her back
on her shoulders
sometimes out in front

moving the things in life
that need moving
she tries to remember
to look up

gravity pulls down
and she admires her toned muscles
not knowing that her strength is her love

she thinks one hundred thoughts
sometimes all at the same time
sometimes quickly one after the other

planning, dreaming, wondering
worrying and wanting
she knits the thoughts
into a life

inspiration strikes
and she marvels at her intelligence
not knowing that her strength is her love

she holds one hundred children
by the hand
in her arms
or in her thoughts

caring for the ones who need caring
because they can’t care for themselves

when she is tired of running
when she is tired of lifting
when she is tired of thinking
she looks at them and smiles
because her strength is her love

Bend the River

Martin was a selfishly made man and viewed his success in life as an extension of the fact that he was awesome.  He believed that he had attained greatness simply because he was great.  He cared deeply for no one but himself, and spent most of his time tending his own soul, warming his own heart, and cultivating his own mind.

People often avoided him on the street.

Most evenings Martin could be found in the garden of his soul, working up the soil and planting seeds of self in tidy manicured rows.  When the planting was done he would root out the things that didn’t belong, weeding out that which didn’t fit his mood, his scene, or his place in life.  In the far corner of his soul he kept a large tank of water which he used regularly to water that which he had planted.  At the end of each evening Martin could often be found standing with proud admiration at the work he had done.

Until the day the tank ran dry.

On that day Martin, confident as usual, picked up two buckets and walked the long winding path to the river that gracefully encircled his soul, filled each one to the brim, and carried them back to pour onto the soil around his plants.  It was a long and strenuous job, and the first day Martin worked long into the night.  After a number of days of carrying buckets, Martin began to realize that he would never be able to carry enough water to nourish all that he had planted.

He needed a new plan.

If he could not carry enough of the river with his buckets, he would instead bring the entire river to the centre of his soul.  He would bend the river to his will.  Grabbing his shovel, Martin began to dig at the spot where the river and his soul met, throwing shovelfuls of soil to his left and right.  He started with vigor, but after three days of hard labour he had only created a crude ditch about 5 metres long and came to the realization that the task was too ambitious.  He would never be able to change the flow of the river.

As Martin struggled to carry buckets, and then attempted to dig a ditch, the plants of his soul began to change from a rich green to yellow, and the soil beneath his feet became dusty ground.

Martin began to despair.

Turning to the sky he lamented, “Where is the rain?  Why is my soul turned to dry ground?  Why must I watch all that I love decay around me?”

As he looked up and railed at the heavens, a raindrop hit his nose, and then another, and soon all around the water fell from the sky and turned the dust to moist rich soil. But the rain was too late for Martin’s plants, and over the next few days what had been green, and then yellow, turned to brown.

Sitting in the middle of his soul Martin looked around at all that he had lost. Exhausted and knowing he could not summon the energy to begin again, he lay back to the ground, and once again faced the heavens.

With his last ounce of strength he whispered, “Help me,” and then drifted off to sleep.

Some time later, when he opened his eyes, he turned and noticed a seedling a few inches away that had just broken ground.  Sitting up, he noticed seedlings all around him, but not the seeds of his past, these were a new thing, and they were definitely not in rows, and they were majestic and beautiful.

Martin smiled, and surrendered his soul to the new wilderness.

And at the end of his long life, as Martin walked the forest of his soul, he sighed with deep satisfaction at the shade and comfort he found there.