Thursday, April 18, 2013

Under the Bridge

Under the bridge a homeless man shivers
On a cardboard mattress he hopes will keep
The frigid cement from chilling bones.
The cold, overcast day dims his shelter.
In tattered overcoat he hugs himself tightly to quiet
Fine tremors spreading from bowel and marrow.

Under the bridge he gazes up,
Burrowing into shadows with blood-shot eyes.
There is a seething in the shaded corners
Causing a tide of fear to engulf him:
Is something moving there
In the umbral underbelly of the overpass?
He has seen the dark recesses jitter before
Then coalesce into wraiths and demons.
The obscure niche seems to swirl like muddy water
In Chocolate Bayou after a deluge.
He rubs his eyes now watery from the effort,
But his vision only becomes more animated.
It reminds him of litter eddying in a wintry wind.
But finally he sees the bats huddling body to body.

At dusk clouds clear, leave the sky washed clean.
The bats rise en masse like thick plumes of smoke;
And with them the high-pitched chatter
And rodent smell of the colony
As it smudges the perfect cobalt blue
Of this autumnal twilight.

written 7/18/2011-1/5/2013  published in Austin International Poetry Festival's 2013 Anthology Di-verse-city