Waiting under the Bridge

Jennifer Lynn Krohn

 

Skip class. Hide under
the arroyo’s bridge.

Smoke cigarettes
while contemplating

the stroller swept there
in the last thunder-

storm. Don’t go home
when school ends.

Don’t go home
when the setting sun

and the air pregnant
with smoke from

a wildfire a hundred
miles away turn

the city a burnished
gold. Stay until bats

dart around the edges
of lampposts picking

off disoriented
insects. Look at the sky

cleaned of stars.
This isn’t like a devil

at a crossroad. Wait
and wait and wait. Wait

through the storm
of moth wings.

When the bridge troll
comes, refuse to move.

Fold your arms,
shake your head

at every threat.
It’s your spot. He must

find another one.
Keep waiting. Wait

through the body-
less whispers. Wait

through the parade
of cloaked figures,

carrying candles
that burn with black flames.

Wait until the woman
with a hole for a face

appears. Listen to what she
whispers in your ear.

Now you know.
Climb up the slanted

concrete walls.
Cross the bridge,

remember the picture
of Ophelia from literature

class. Drowning yourself
is not an option

in the desert. When you want
to disappear like the stars,

there is no current to sweep
over you. Leap off

a bridge and break a leg,
a shoulder, but not

your neck. Why do you
think these things?

You don’t want to die.
But death is easier

to imagine than certain
things and people

stopping–don’t think
about that. Your one

talent is not thinking
about that. Look at

the solid yellow line
crossed by skid marks

leading to a grey
furred smudge

at the brink
of the bridge.

Realize, bridges are
an act of violence.

A way to erase
boundaries. No

river. No stream. No
canyon could keep

him out. You wanted
to be an island.

A castle with a moat.
But there’s not

enough water.
There’s no such

thing as a spell
for protection.

There are only
curses. Go home.

 

***

Jennifer Lynn Krohn was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she currently lives with her husband. She earned her MFA from the University of New Mexico, and she currently teaches English at Central New Mexico Community College. She has published work in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Necessary Fiction, Storm Cellar, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Gingerbread House Literary Magazine among others.