Homeless man on Bridgestreet
He stands on the bridge
opposite the primary school
with its empty summer playground
thick with ghosts.
From the boy’s face beneath the beard,
blown grey by the soot of cars,
I presume he’s waiting for his mother
exactly where she promised she’d be when the bell rang
fifty years ago or more.
Then the raindrop of his whispered change?
and the river’s million voices sending up its answers,
washed to one mindless roar,
hurrying past him again.
one day we combed the land
mending broken fences
I drove the tractor, while you followed on foot
wordlessly taking each wooden stake from the trailer
to hammer them into the earth
after a while some kind of rhythm was established
I awkwardly splurted the vehicle from point to point
and paused at your HO!
for the toll of the sledge hammer
like gunshots over the fields
I was coasting nicely
my foot sure and light on the pedal
one arm even resting on the tool box like I’d seen you do
and glanced out the window at your face
calm and hard in the blue
your peaceful look maybe saying
you trusted me at the wheel
and a tide of feeling passed through me
more love than my heart knew it had
and when a few minutes later
I mixed up the brake and accelerator
so the tractor roared backwards suddenly
within a grass-blade of crushing you dead
you didn’t say a word