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By Martin Jones

We were fishing off dānus brēhwā, too humble

to call a bridge, casting for perch and pickerel

and talking such nonsense as boys talk, of

county fairs and wild horses, of whom among

gods is fiercest and among girls the loveliest,

a morning made for fishing, no rain for days, no

clouds, just a wayward breeze and the sun.

Who was first to fall silent? Was it the crow or

the morning dove, the village dogs or perhaps

the cicadas by the road? Maybe it was us.

Later, we said our shivering was from the cold

but we knew it was fear; even the sun hid itself

in a storm cloud as the ominous slow click-clog

began, soft at first, growing towards scrapes and

moans; all nature heard it with us, a being

trudging slowly in pain, dragging a foot behind,

flinging its twisted body forward in slow-motion.

At bridge-top the head swiveled toward us with

a leer of broken teeth; there were no eyes but

pools of death and lamentation without end.

I vomited when it was gone, you shivered once

more and slowly, the morning re-assembled itself.

And yet I wonder if it was really you and I on that

bridge so many summers ago, for it seems a time

beyond recollection. The story has been told in

so many places and for so long, by my grandfather

and his grandfather, one imagines it to be a tale

from the far edge of memory that in a lost clearing

along the Nile River or in Ur’s primordial eden,

two boys were fishing off a bridge when the devil

passed by, foreseeing this singular event

to be sufficient.


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