Megan Lacey

Rookie (December 1,1981 / Peoria, Illinois)

Under The Bridge - Poem by Megan Lacey

While the others splashed in the creek
The one sat on the grassy bank, waiting.
A pad of paper nestled at one side, a pencil flung across it.
Whether a sketchbook or a journal - who knows?
It lay forgotten, abandoned for the comfort of daydreams.
The air was hot and heavy, promising an evening storm
But thoughts of seeking shelter under the old concrete bridge
Were far from all minds - It was time for an afternoon's pleasures.
A basket squatted on the stretch of sand 'neath the piles
Filled with all the bounty of July, by the artful hands of Grandma.
Chicken fried golden brown, biscuits flaky and soft, with mountains of
And strawberry jam - canned but a day before.
Crisp vinegar pickles, straight from the garden to the mason jar,
Watermelon still warm from the fields, and late strawberries picked that
To round out the feast - Two clay jugs (easily fifty years old) filled to
the brim-
With tart lemonade, to wash it all down: They sat in the stream to chill.
It had become still and quiet.
The others had moved downstream
Out of sight, and out of mind.
The one looked about, alert to the silence.
Alone, but not lonely, a secret joy alive
Sandals were shed, and the flood pants rolled up to the knees
Minnows darted against sun-browned ankles
To the middle of the channel, clear water running over bare skin, cool and
The deepest part came up to the chest, and where it swirled around the
The current's always much stronger, more insistent.
But the one stood to the knobby knees, letting toes become numb by spring
fed waters, and the face warmed by the sun.
The wind rose, rain scenting the air. Arms raised, open to the sky, the one
The heavens opened, great fat raindrops rippling the stream.
The one waded back, settling under the bridge, listening for the others…
For the end of the precious solitude.
Pulling the jugs of lemonade from the icy water, the one filled a glass and
The chicken and biscuits were set out, towels and blankets spread across
the sand.
And a crackling fire kindled under the old bridge.
Shrieks, not quite of laughter, assaulted the ears.
Bedraggled and soaked, the others approached
Slogging through the creek, muddied by the passage of many feet.
They sit shivering, near the drying heat of the fire, to eat their picnic.
Chicken devoured, watermelon cut and feasted upon.
The rain beat a cadence on the bridge above
And the roll of thunder added exclamation
In the circle of flickering firelight- the one will be begged
For strange fancies that might be shared
Magic will unfold, falling rhythmically from practiced lips
Under the bridge, by the flow of the creek, in the light of the fire
With the stormy dusk beyond.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 7, 2008

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