(For Laurie) Waters of my Life


By George Norris Hall
May 24, 2012 Bookmark and Share

Water crosses my mind,
trickles from a brook,
falling three feet to polished gravel,
little Herculean rivulets
marching to their task,
sitting on the bank
my feet interrupt the flow,
ice cold so long ago
before I grew up
to think of other things,
a child memory so clear
and I have no idea why.

I must have been ten,
that would have been 1945.

Lying in my bed
in the old farm house,
listening to my mother
fight with her boyfriend,
the crash of a thrown dish,
drunken bickering
muted by the sound
of thunder and driving rain,
my eyes so tightly shut they hurt,
straining not to hear anything but the storm,
a lesser violence without pain.

Jumping from a bridge
into a river, scared out of my mind,
but something I had to do
to prove I was not afraid,
so many times in my life
something I had to do
to prove I was not afraid,
but no matter what I did
I always was, although
I had to do it
or admit it and that was something
I simply could not do,
admit the fear that consumed me.

I remember the water
of the little brook and how good it felt
caressing my feet, and the
peace I felt being alone in the woods
before I grew up to be someone
I’ve never understood.  I remember
the smells of my grandmother’s kitchen,
while I sat watching her bake
on rainy days way back then
before I grew up to be
the man I never wanted to be.
I’ve never understood
what happened to me.

I remember all the rainy nights
I’ve lain awake through all the years,
all the bridges from which I have jumped,
all the terrors I’ve felt before my head
broke the water and I could breathe again,
all the times I’ve crawled back
onto the trestle to jump again
wanting with all of my heart
to be able not to do it,
not to cause the pain,
not to be the man I was,
the man I did not want to be.

Now, in the twilight of my life,
I have you, and the violent storms
have quieted into soothing rains,
and I am not afraid anymore
of the man I was who is no more.