He sat in silence,
Stuck in the four walls of a cage
He built with trembling hands.
Curtains drawn to block the sun,
To help forget; there were years,
Years before,
Where every mountain was a challenge,
Every rapid an exuberant race,
The air itself shimmered with the joy of
His passage through the world.

Not now.
The bedroom door is locked.
The windows bear a weight impossible to move
With numb hands.
All that seemed safe was inside.
All that could ever be was the cage.

The next day was different.

No one saw him leave, saw
The black that spread
Like waves of mud from his bed
Through the quiet country lanes
To a stone bridge
In the county’s heart.
No one saw him, toes curling
Over the ancient rocks;
Saw how the wind ran its fingers
Through his hair,
Tried to catch him in the air
Heard the breeze wail the world’s loss.

His mother sits
By a stream’s soft bank
Watching it squirm, laughing under
Its own momentum.
There is an otter who swims there,
Dances through the water,
Smiles from the shore.
The air around it shimmers
With the very joy of living
It looks her in the eye
Holds her stare and grins
At the soft tears on her face.
Her smile returns.
Maybe the rotund gentleman
Will sit awhile and listen to her stories
Of the young man
His cigar smoke wandering on the wind.
They’ll talk
She’ll laugh
And maybe
Just maybe
The otter is listening
As it plays with the ashes floating downstream.


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