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The Jewel Upon the Bridge

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  • The Jewel Upon the Bridge

    A.N.: This was a rough conversation between me and a plant--a tiny plant living on a single plank of wood--and she held more majesty than the waterfall strutting behind her. I am from Brooklyn, New York.)

    I slipped back through the clouds, their wintry dew
    Was hindering my thoughts, and, too, my eyes.
    ‘Twas reminiscent of a birthday gift
    Unveiléd from the shelter of surprise.

    Another step I dared not take. I saw
    The charred remains of what I’d learned and seen.
    It perilously hung o’er a chasm
    With traces faint of ever being green.

    Upon my peering closer to the ledge,
    A fog did rise up from the depths below.
    It slowly hovered toward me like a cat,
    Then through my very soul the fog did go.

    At once, I saw, as though it never left,
    The waving boughs as green as memory,
    Their spiral blossoms, lofty, out of reach,
    Cascading walls ‘twere mimicking the sea.

    I trod upon their brothers shorn and smooth,
    While cooling mists were swift to pacify
    And stroked my damask cheek devoid of blame.
    I could not understand their cryptic sighs.

    The rending roar and gossip of the stream
    Assailed my ears much like a deep massage.
    How friendly were the trees along the bank!
    They blessed the falls and all who paid homage.

    Why, even tiny spiders know not fear
    Of their fragile homes being swept away
    By wide, pulsing splashes and great hiccups:
    Their homes would still have a beaded display.

    These sights and more the cloud had granted me,
    Which split and brought me together at once.
    How is it that the cloud did not reveal
    The spider’s hue, the way in which she hunts?

    But clearly as a day not yet gone by,
    A spread of moss lay clinging to the wood
    Of one long bridge across the waterfall,
    Receiving beads of froth, she proudly stood.

    Protruding from the moss, there rose an act
    Of sheer defiance, smaller than my hand.
    A mere four leaves and stem on vibrant planks
    Declared their triumph over all the land.

    So taken was I with the miniscule
    Rather than the grandeur of the water,
    I bent down to obtain a better view
    And spoke to her like she was my daughter.

    “My dear, how long have you been living here?
    What careless wind had dropped you in this place?
    Why do you live with no roots to support,
    By waves by which you’re threatened and embraced?”

    “Please, silence!” she replied, waving her leaves
    And tossing them in indignant fashion.
    “I scarce heard you at all, because your voice
    Became the falls, who speak without passion.

    Ma’am, is it not enough that you have seen
    What very few have forgone to pass by?
    I bid you, make of me whate’er you will,
    And cast aside your inquiries and sighs.”

    The words she spoke were chastening and sharp,
    But nonetheless, I knew there was a kind
    Of sentiment behind her proud façade
    Which served to soothe and test my youthful mind.

    I looked once more, and straighter yet she stood
    So proud and tall, without means of defense
    Except her size, but more importantly,
    The crown jewel had demanded recompense.

    Humbled, I could do naught but accept
    The gift bestowed upon my foolish heart.
    She'd granted me the sight of lustrous pearls
    With which she had become a work of art.

    The splendid sight I saw began to fade
    And with her, every drop and every bough
    Had risen to the mystic, foggy sky,
    And barricaded in my mind--'til now.

    The bridge, once scorched, returned to vibrant green,
    Yet I dared not step on the precious wood.
    The jewel had taught me to look back and find
    What few, including me, have understood.

    I smiled on the bridge before the fog,
    And turned 'round towards the latter, unafraid.
    Though years have separated her and me,
    The memory is green with hints of shade.

    Someday I'll travel to the waterfall
    Again, where it will plummet, sing and greet
    Me. I will respond with my own call
    And search for tiny plants I've yet to meet.

    No plant is like my Jewel, I know her well.
    But if, perchance, her roots have failed to stay
    On her vivid bridge, this, to you, I'll tell:
    Her memory will never burn away.

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