His Last Blink - Poem by Jared Gullage
Brakes squeal and glass shatters.
The sick lurch in the middle of his stomach.
A cold wind, that feeling of falling,
The ground rushed up unstoppably.
Then, he blinked.
I want to say, but I don't know,
The next thing he saw was the little pond behind our family home,
Right at sunset when he liked to be there,
The sky the color of the cookout fire when he smashed a marshmallow in my hair
And told ghost stories about creepy old ladies "pulling my leg."
I want to say the sky is like that, and like
The Easter eggs we gathered after the big event was over at Grandmom and Granddad's.
We threw them in the road and watched cars smash them to bits,
And their colorful shells scattered across the black asphalt like the clouds across this horizon now.
A distant soundless lightning bolt or two flash across an endless horizon
Made of pine trees and oak trees and hickories.
I want colors for him like the sky was when the mosquitos came,
In the summer when we made our frog islands on the shores of the pond,
Which we always called a lake,
Where he taught me how to fish for carp.
We looked up in respectful reverence
In honor of the melting daylight.
The night invariably came for us then,
But never quite the same.
The sun never carved the same clouds twice.
Nor forged the same shades of orange, red, blue, or purple.
He's standing in ankle deep water.
He doesn't know how he got there.
He remembers something about feeling sick,
Trying to go home,
But it fades like a Saturday morning dream.
Out in the lake, standing on the water,
A figure of a man says:
'Come out here. The fishing is better."
Jason knows who he is,
But he didn't expect him here and now and like this.
Maybe he walks out there to him,
And stands awkwardly beside him,
His hands in his pockets,
His smirk of dubious acceptance on his face.
"What happened? " he asks the figure of a man. "How'd I get here? "
'You made a mistake, but it's over with. Do you like this place? "
"Yeah. But, I don't get it. I was in a car, and…I think…."
"And now you're here, with me. Is this not where you want to be? "
"Wait. Am I…? "
"We're here. This is where we are. This is where your heart is, so here we are. I've been waiting for you."
'Waiting for me? Why? '
'I want to fish. I like to fish. Don't you? '
'Oh, ' he says. "Well, can't you read my mind? Don't you know what I want already or something? "
'I do. I like to ask people, ' says the figure. "So? "
'Yeah, ' Jason says.
The figure hands him a pole. 'It's good out here, ' he says.
They cast a while. Jason looks over at the figure in the twilight.
The man beside him doesn't look like what he thought he would,
But he knew he wouldn't.
He knew those paintings never had him right.
They catch some fish.
Some big, some small.
They're all fighters.
They don't keep them.
Kodi and Zeus, the two Rottweiler dogs who loved him,
Come trotting across the lake as though they knew all along he was here.
They sit to either side of him, and Zeus looks up at him as though to say simply:
"This is better than a boat."
Jason pats each dog on the head. He breathes their Rottweiler stink.
Kodi snorts at him in that piggish way he used to do.
The man beside him smiles.
He wears shorts and sandals
And a t-shirt.
His hair is shorter than expected, and he sports a goatee.
Even so, Jason feels like he really knows him.
He asks the question that's hovered around him like a deerfly:
'This gonna be like one of those Sunday school things? '
'No. Just fishing for now.'
The lures splash like startled bullfrogs.
The sun never moves.
The fish don't always bite.
Sometimes they snag on limbs.
Sometimes the lines get tangled.
Sometimes a fish takes the lure off the line.
The wind blows a little, just enough to make goose-bumps,
And geese fly overhead.
'I always figured..., ' starts Jason after a while.
'I know, ' the figure says.
'I'm sorry, ' Jason says.
'I know, ' the figure says. He flicks his wrist and sends his line out. He pulls at the line to tighten up the slack. He doesn't look at Jason while he's casting and reeling.
Jason gets a bass. It's not bad, but he throws it back.
"You can keep it if you want. There are more."
"Nah. Too small."
A house waits at the top of a hill.
Lights turn on and warmth radiates like sunshine from each bright square window.
'What's that? ' he asks the figure.
'That's your family coming home, ' the figure says. 'They're getting supper ready. When we're done fishing, we'll go see who's come home tonight."
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