Across the Bridge

 

by Stephen Hawks

 

 

I saw a crab wash up,

Another dart away into his hole,

Sure the beast was stalking prey.

 

These are no ordinary things;

There are no ordinary things

And when there seem to be

I think this stranger than before:

The dullness weighs on me;

My muscles ache;

My bones feel close to breaking.

I push it off and run away.

 

This hole takes on the Earths surplus of sand;

Where then to rest

My vagrant, homeless mind?

 

Several times Ive asked a stranger:

Whatd ya think?

I dont want definitions,

No definitive answers that might exert some claim,

Some party affiliation.

 

They think Im talking about religion, politics, or sex:

 

I might remember what it is but cant,

Because it always claims the impossible

Within me - and without,

Deals me a sudden blow-

 

I wont be like that,

Not like the crab,

Not the same

 

But wait,

You think Im talking about myself?

What self exists:

 

The voice speaking,

The one spoken to,

The pen, the hand, the paper,

Making marks;

The floor I sit on,

And the other room,

The cars outside, the wind,

The fountain in the lake?

 

There is always a new name

For what we already know,

And then the other added, too:

 

Fictions and truths;

The unseen nearby ocean and the Rio Grande outside,

Its little resacas-

 

Just a word evokes place,

Personal context,

But if you think the universal thought in English

It is one thing, Crab,

In Tswa something else, Nzolo (So my mother says),

Jaiba in Matamoras

Across the bridge:

 

Lovers love late

And in the morning stay

Or cross into mysterious lands,

Where luckless opportunity and death await.

 

How many times has it been:

Man takes a bride,

The bride takes him

And they begin to die,

Or like the desert bloom,

Create some color in a world of dust?

 

Like lovers late again,

Turned back at the gates

By guards with guns,

And metal barriers

 

Our progress awaits.

Which side reveals our true identity:

Tomando lados

 

No,

Not taking sides.

Reminiscence, Evocacion-

Before what and after, then-

 

It is not recalling that wakes us,

But living into the boundaries,

Into the seeming divide,

Into the arched bouquet

Awaiting arrival-

 

In fact-

Bearing the sand in our craw,

Hearing the music of scavenger birds,

 

Awkward music,

Always reminding me of infinity

And the inevitable, structured in time.

 

 

Stephen Hawks, born in Washington D. C. in 1961, has lived most of his life in Georgia. After early training in art, music and theater, he received his BFA from Valdosta State University. For 19 years he was Resident Potter at Westville, a living History Museum in southwest Georgia, wood firing and slip and ash glazing. In 2010 he received his MFA from Florida State University. He is married and has two grown Daughters and is currently teaching Ceramics, Art History, and graduate Art Education at the University of Texas at Brownsville. In his spare time he writes poetry, plays the piano, and edits the web pages: Art and Anthroposophy.

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