Sometimes, a portrait speaks to me. I find myself falling in and becoming part of the scene. It is not that what I see, what I hear, or what I think is based on reality. Instead, it is – what story does this image speak to me. Sometimes I follow an easy path and other times I am lost within that image. Either way, the story always starts out unknown to me and it gently unravels as I continue writing. This poem should be part of my Portraits Series Poetry, but I just couldn’t help but share it now (instead of later). I hope you enjoy.
I hear church bells in the distance,
it methodically counts the passing moments
one, two, three – are already spent.
It is a Monday afternoon and the sun is shining
I hear the water lapping against the leaning bridge
whose rotting beams has brought me here.
I choose to sit far away from the street,
and find shade beneath an old oak tree.
The bench I sit on, has been here longer than I
and the seat is worn, but comfortable.
Here is where I catch up with silence.
I wonder at the passing clouds, the call of seagulls overhead
I listen to the laughter of children play on the sidewalks
as school is finally dismissed.
I wonder at the passing of time
for I too, once played in these streets
calling out “Olley Olley Oxenfree!”
when the task of finding was difficult.
I remember Mr. Wagoner’s store on First Street
where we would buy candy – one penny each.
Sometimes you could find us laughing,
walking around town puffing candy cigarettes.
It was a gentle time, growing up
beneath the shade of a close knit community
where every house contained –
people that you knew, or thought you knew
and their watchful eye would keep you in place
somehow, there was just a comfort in being home.
I remember my college years, time spent in the big city
and I dreamt of my return to this comfortable haven.
I spent my time working hard, struggling to make ends meet
and though I was successful, it was nothing quite like home.
It was there that I met Mary, a dainty lass of twenty
with flowing, long red hair and a head full of dreams.
After college, we returned – Mary and I, and now, our son.
Mother and Father were delighted, for their home would not know silence
and we have raised our child upon these very streets.
People moved away and others moved in
and though the scenery didn’t change, the soul of this place vanished.
Neighbors never say hello and children no longer play along the pathways.
You still hear laughter at the end of school, but it’s just not the same,
for once the bell strikes four, the streets are empty once again.
Children are all inside, burdened heavy with books and lessons
or perhaps jettisoned to the nearby park for contact sports
there is that mad dash of – attaining something
and before their day is complete, perhaps there will be a round of
computer games, videos, or an active game of fighting over the television
there is no time to play.
Things have changed…
things have changed so much that the soul of this place no longer resonates
I feel the orphaned consequence of dissonance
and though sad, I smile to see my son
trotting across the bridge to greet me.
Another day is done,
and for the moment, I have forgotten my longing
but as soon as I look into his eyes, I cannot help but cry inside
for the childhood I cannot give him.
© Sumyanna 2017