Ice strings diamond
	Necklaces along the old plum tree,
	As I lie and wait--
	For what?
	The world to end?
	Hardly.
	Yet, a world I know
	Is ending now,
	As I lie amid the bags and boxes
	Of six decades of life.
	For half those years
	I added my living
	To the jumble
	That surrounds me now;
	And, somehow, I
	Thought the years had no end.
	But their ghosts haunt me now.
	Good and bad,
	They skitter through my brain
	To remind me
	No thing is really real,
	Nothing lasts forever.
	Soon, I shall see
	This town no more;
	Its paths and lanes,
	Once so familiar beneath my feet,
	Will close,
	And I shall be evermore
	A stranger to them.
	Times here were often hard--
	But they were all I knew.
	All my glory here--
	Only emptiness now, a tiny spark
	Amid the infinite space of unknowing,
	Uncaring meaninglessness.
	Who knows me now?
	Who cares to remember when
	My name was a household word?
	Youths I see today
	Passing on their way
	Scarce were born
	When I played demigod
	Along these rotten, pot-holed streets.
	The wind rattles
	Through the ice-clad trees,
	Reminding me
	My bones are also made of clay.
	Why do I love this dirty,
	Common, shabby town?
	What is it to me
	Where I live or die?
	God knows.
	Yet, what I am today
	Lies locked in this town's history.
	All I know and fear
	Love or despise,
	Scorn or long for
	Lies buried
	Beneath this town's icy shell.
	The sweetest things I've ever known
	And the most bitter--
	Both are here.
	Highest glory, praise and honor
	Ring in these streets,
	Just as do deepest sorrow
	And regret.
	How can I turn my back
	On all I am,
	On all that made me me?
	And like all other bridges
	I've crossed and burned,
	This, too, I cross alone.
	We are all alone
	In our deepest moments,
	In our most inner journeys.
	But my arms still ache
	To hold someone dear
	And try to whisper
	What it is I fear,
	While I see
	My life fading into darkness.
	So this one, last
	Empty memory
	I add to all the rest.
	It falls like a brittle limb
	To perish in the dust.

12/8/78 West Memphis, Arkansas

© Fred O'Bryant. All rights reserved.

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