Lifeline

by A.M. Broadous
April 2021

1

 

Yellow boxes intersperse these terra

cotta beams like tall 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 final 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

to call again sometime 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.