the bridge

    The woman I was going to marry was standing
    on a bridge, on one of three bridges,
    I can't remember which, but she had a red dress on
    that cost a whole week's pay. I knew because
    I'd bought it for her and she'd worn it, which meant
    we were in love. I gave her the flowers -- they were
    carnations -- so I could take her hand and kiss it,
    while the sky grumbled above us like her drunk
    grouch of a father, who was out of the way, dead,
    a victim of cheap gin at forty-five. It was the year
    of the Bus Riots, the same day a detective's car
    was set on fire, but he was beyond help long before
    she had finished adjusting her lipstick, two and half
    junctions across town. By morning, a million
    man-days' work would be lost, along with Father's salary
    and what pride he'd scrapped together after the war
    buried the family fortune. A plump young mother struggled
    with an umbrella over her shopping and twin babies. I knew
    it was time. We stepped into shelter, I ordered coffee
     and toast over the rising din and shutters slamming,
    and without stirring it, downed a gulp for luck. Sweat
    got as far as the wrapping but not inside, for which I prayed
    in thanks to all the ancestors I could name. She couldn't hear
    me the first time, nor the second, so I gave her the little
    band of metal, twenty months of savings and a tooth-mark
    in a corner to prove it was pure. I see now, students bleeding
    and bones being broken mere streets across the city
    could not have been more real, not with her face a sweet
    breath away from me and flushed, and clouding. Something
    shifted in her eye. The world was suddenly another climate,
    the news spilling everywhere. I never found the ring, nor even
    the mud-smacked box, not with her back arching away
    into downpour like it'd always belonged. If there was any way
    the rain could have made her more beautiful, I don't know it.

    [nb: revisions - Oct 2011] 

30 January 2004   16:32 hours
5 dreams { } at least