My morning commute takes me across
the Hudson, a bridge halfway between,
belting the river snugly but
not so snug as to cut off the flow.
Not so wide as at its mouth,
not so fine as the watery needle’s trickle
north, near perpetual clockwork winters.
Sometimes fog is so dense
I can’t see the eastern shore,
bridge bending out into an unknown end.
Sometimes all I can see is painted lines,
railing almost close enough to touch,
mist smearing windshield,
wipers powerless to clear my way.
Except for these extreme days
when weather bends time,
sun’s cheap face sheds little light
on my routine, my mind finds a
safe space to wander. My griefs
leak out into plain mornings.
My dead, who are always close by,
come back in incidents, recalled calamities,
small gesture in a diner, an embroidered
partridge, laughter in an office, all
lingering in gilded circles, tightening
around my throat as my drive continues.
They who were, who are not now,
have no real bearing on this day
beyond what I invite.
The Dead have a way of taking
bow after bow, their stage my divided memory,
their performance one I’ve seen many times.
I am not here to linger with them,
I tell myself finally.
I and the race need to go on.
The woods rise beside the road,
fog or no, sun or without.
If humans stopped when loved ones die,
rewrote our lives until all was equitably
resolved, sanitary, sane, then the whole lot of us
would be gone by now, fingers frozen with exhaustion.
We are here to witness only the crow
that darts before us at the traffic light,
watch leaves cross crimson to brown,
to snow-covered crumble.
We must cross without reluctance,
use pavement before us to proceed.
Cheryl A. Rice’s poems have appeared in Home Planet News, Rye Whiskey Review, Exit 13, and Misfit Magazine, among others. Recent books include Until the Words Came (Post Traumatic Press), coauthored with Guy Reed, and Love’s Compass (Kung Fu Treachery Press). Her monthly column, “The Flying Monkey,” appears at albanypoets.com, and her erratic blog is at: http://flyingmonkeyprods.blogspot.com/. Rice lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.