The Kinds of Stories That Pulled Us In
She jumped off a bridge.
We were a city of skeletal bridges
and wondered, was it over a creek stuttered with rocks,
or a railroad track or the black tarmac
of a dead-end road?
She was somebody’s mother
and had bad headaches. Our mother did, too,
and lay down on the saggy, gray couch
while we were banished from the front room.
We knew her boy -- tall, dark-haired, played in Little League.
Such big pain, we thought.
These kinds of stories circulated
like whispers, half details, questionable
and mildly thrilling. After school
we went over to the lot to see the crashed cars
from the teenagers’ game of chicken.
They were dead, too, and we’d say a Hail Mary
or a decade of the rosary if we were feeling generous.
But really, we went to see the blood,
that’s what we’d heard about.
That’s what caught our fancy,
just like the songs on our transistors, bleating
under our pillows, sometimes all night.
There is plenty of time for decay.
Mottled red apples spot the gnarled tree,
invitations to the squawking jays and squirrels.
October lament, light loosening from hours.
Wind remembering its teeth.
A friend’s mother lies close to death.
A long life about to conclude
as families wait, weary with false patience
and dread. Shadows stretch tendrils
into evenings. My own mother gone now
13 years, a sorrow I tidied up quickly.
But loss is often on simmer, insistent
just below the surface, no matter how adept
we become at packaging the story.
Now I watch others with fresh wounds, glad
that raw and ragged pain has given over
to the cold stone that weights my heart.
And I cannot help but think this is a good season
to die, with its gold and shimmery colors,
the prominent moons, the garden folded in.
Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Harpur Palate, Natural Bridge, and others. Thrice-nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she’s published two chapbooks, most recently Happy Darkness. She’s also published short fiction, essays and stories and poems for children and lives in Seattle.