On freezing nights when the river settles, the reflection of city lights is clearer than the real lights. She views this better on the bridge, her winter pilgrimage.
Colder than the air, she grips its handrail. Her hands pull away only at the moment she can’t feel them. It’s that pain she’s after, of her hands warming up after they’ve become numb, filled with little sparkles, needles, the slow throb back to movement.
But the lights found on the river’s surface hold a deeper meaning than pain for her.
She trusts the reflections more than real lights. They have a glimmer that’s missing from the real thing. She knows this not to be true. She knows the side of reflection is fiction, but, in a way, she believes that her wishing, a wishing so deep, so intense, begins to create an alternate reality.
She thinks… No. She knows there are millions of others just like her, wishing as she does. And with that power, alternative realities are coming into being, piece by piece, wish by wish.
Someday she’ll attempt to reach the reflections.
For now, she will settle for a hand on the railing, looking…looking…until she’s numb…again.
She’s on her tiptoes.
One can hear the electrical wires in the rain near the scattered towns.
Your voice is still under those lines, in one town or another, poking around old man bars.
You wanted to see where the forest ditched the highway, where the grid no longer gripped feral ferns and moss.
We picnicked next to the river, sandwiches and wine. The rain had stopped, left to playing only with leaves.
You were scared of the forest, its sounds. The very thing you thought you protected.
I never told you, the road is hidden on the other side underneath the trees, behind the wild rhododendron.
Traffic is far and few between, a crawl, especially after winter’s scarring of pavement.
I can see you, running for the parking lot, back to the towns, the wires, fear in your eyes.
Sometimes, to be honest, I wish I could be as scared as you.
This warm winter makes the creek scream like spring.
I dip my hand in, as far in as my long sleeves let me
Smooth stones, slick, cold life, years in my hands.
My fragile blood beats, knows the water by heart.
It’s good to be wary of the speed of the current
where it licks up upon the shore, sure feet are never a given.
It can bite you, gently, or with unforgiving teeth.
Its noise covers all voices, who’ve come beyond the falls
I head for snow level, it’s high for this time of the year.
Pine needles dot its surface like a mild sprinkling of spice.
Towhees, ravens, and buntings call with haunting songs
An echo between their voices, moves with the forest, downhill.
There, below, near the river and I-84, the creek is a maiden jumping.
Thousands of selfies, one tripod, a few point and shoots
attempt to catch her in the act of hitting the ground.
She refuses to pose.