Isn’t it funny how day by day
but when you look back
everything is different?
There are voices on the other side of the railroad tracks–the tracks that I would love to walk over so I could be hovering over the river on a metal tightrope, so I could say that I made it all the way to the other side.
Happy birthday, they are singing. I see a couple people sitting in deck chairs on the top floor of the condo complex, and assume it must be them.
There are wispy spider webs bobbing back and forth, hanging onto the metal rungs of the railing between the walkway and the water. The bush that is dancing in the wind over my shoulder has large droplets of a white sticky substance scattered among the leaves. At first sight, I think sea spray. At second, I think maybe the beginnings of the webs of those notorious caterpillars that build white nests for themselves in trees.
The wind is calm, cold enough to feel like your fingers are cradling a glass of water, but not cool enough for a sweater. I move from the jutting corner of the pavement to the bench farther back. Tiny bushes with small pink flowers ruffle their feathers, and the leaves above my head crinkle and hiss as they tickle each other over and over again.
The air is still between the movements of the wind. A touch of smoke, like a lightly burning candle, livens its smell. The water is touched so delicately with ripples that it looks like someone is adding each pucker in the surface with the stroke of a paintbrush–dipping it in gold and gray and blue and blending them to reflect the sky.
I came here with someone at night, and as we walked under the stars, we talked about how we would be looking at them years and years from now. I read someone else a note I wrote for him–read it to him because he couldn’t read my curly handwriting. I sat here in my black uniform when I worked nearby, after my life felt as shattered as the river looks when a fish flicks its tail above the surface. A friend gave me a necklace near here and we walked on a night when the streetlamps glowed over leaves scraping across the cobblestones. I come here alone again as the weather turns cooler and let anxious thoughts fly from my mind and skirt off like the seagulls into the distance.
The reeds rustle, and crickets lull the water to deeper and deeper sleep. An air conditioning unit somewhere chimes in as well. The sky blends more and more gray into the splotchy paint of blue and gold.
The lamps turn on, an ethereal glow like they are lighting the way to Narnia as I walk back over the harsh stones to the main road.