The Writers Voice
Eric Michael Hines
The day I first lived, Death played me a jingle In organ tongue Half-past nightfall Off the shore of the Chesapeake… I lost my job that morning. Downsizing. A decade wasted Counting sums I’d touch only illegally, Smoked away on a torrent of decaf blends And three-ring binders That bound my sanity. I cried in a restroom stall, Quietly though, So the men at the urinals wouldn’t hear. On the way home, the highway spoke like a mother, Dried my eyes with her breath, And called me down the parkway. Like a son, I followed Without knowing why. The road brought me past the Chesapeake. It shimmered in the moonlight Like an earthbound aurora. My heart pumped to The beat of a song I heard once in a dream Of my life as it should have been, And for some reason, I stopped alongside that road. I went into the woods And found a sturdy branch. With a paper clip and some floss From my boss' briefcase, I made myself a magic fishing rod for catching dreams I ran out into the surf with my rod and screamed at waves Which roared back whispers, Pushing me, Vomiting my filth back to the sand. They slapped me And I cussed them with prayer. “I’m not leaving ‘til I take something back, or you kill me!” I said. “Go right ahead, God! Kill me, you coward! Erase this mistake like all the other ones! I dare you to show yourself!” My rebellion was fun for only a moment. I stepped blindly over the edge of an undertow And sank beyond the brink of shallows. Desperate hands clawed The blackness. It swathed all around; Still and warm like a cradle. Deeper, deeper I fell. The bitter brine kissed my throat With honey far sweeter than my damned heartbeat. I chose the mirror black beneath the sky. At that moment, the shadows of the future Danced with the echoes of the past, And I heard the choirs Only good men hear And the gnashing For men like me. My life was a fantasy tale Alone on the shelf, Unread by even myself. A voice came to me in the darkness. “No." I thought it was an Angel denying my entrance into Heaven. The voice drew tears from eyes that weren’t mine. I saw the body spinning below in a silent pirouette. “It’s not me,” I told myself. The truth hung before me, but I didn't want it. It was over. Then I heard the love. “No,” said the voice again. “Live.” Cool fire Carried me down A tunnel Toward the light Of birth. I was delivered from the water free, Under the Iunar midwife. I was a newborn baby-boomer Flying with tattered wings. My eyes flowed and let fall the ocean blood. I asked for a sign, And got a billboard, And a strike two. I caroused with the end And found the beginning With a magic fishing rod and a nightmare, Off the shore of the Chesapeake.
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