Lifeline

by A.M. Broadous
April 2021

1

Terra cotta beams interspersed with
yellow boxes. Marked graves with no bright
immortelle. They all have the same epitaph—
The consequences of jumping off this bridge
are fatal and tragic.
It is both caution and
desperation. I shut my eyes and count
down from ten for a fourth time.

2

Why are You so far from saving me?

3

I imagine Charles S. Gallagher, Sr. felt
his world tumbling like a kaleidoscope
until the invisible skyscraper found purchase
on blue and more blue. They say it comes
as blunt as blackout. Others know better,
but they’re used to feeling too much.

4

I am sorry, the note said. I want to
keep dad company
. It made sense.

5

How many hands have white-knuckled
this cold steel rail my own hand now
grazes? This wind ripples my shirt.
I contemplate the many scrawled notes it
left behind on its way whistling through
the bay as if it truly felt that happy.

6

Absolutely no reason except I have
A toothache.
It did not make sense.

7

This machine does not take quarters,
just a push of a red button that might
call God or Kevin Hines or some sea lion
waiting below or a warm Saudi Arabian
man who crossed his legs and said I wasn’t
crazy and was so sure of it he could’ve
cried himself to sleep every night.

8

There is a voice on the other end,
and it is almost as thick as this fog.

9

Is it me or this city that shivers with a
cold sweat from psychological fever?
Do I hang up the phone or tell Him
I’ll call Him back later because I feel
a terrible cold coming on?

10

God is eons from me now,
washed away by the wailing
of water, of Gallagher, of the
sea lion. In this baptism of
salt, I am half gasping,
half drowning—in a word—

alive.