We watch you go by
night after night
never seeing us
and we wonder
at your secret life
that could have taught you so well
how not to see others
a skill much desired by us
that we've never been able to master
caught instead, in our life
in a flood of never ending perceptions, thoughts, and feelings
ceaseless, without end
seeming to start from a time when as a youth
we rode a bike with failing brakes downhill towards a busy street.
We would've drug our shoes on the sidewalk
as a way to stop ourselves
if we'd been wearing shoes
but we weren't
so we did the next best thing (or so we thought at the time)
and stuck our big toe which had an overgrown nail to the sidewalk
shortening the nail considerably by and by
and leaving a red trail behind the bike
but, by God, we got that bike stopped.
But what we didn't know was that
it would be the last time
we would ever manage to stop ourselves
in a life that became a comic misadventure
in trying to put a brake
on the flood of our feelings, thoughts, and perceptions
but only, time after time
yanking on emergency brakes
that came off in our hands
stepping on brake pedals with both feet
and watching them drop to the floor without effect
except to leave our mouths hanging open in dull surprise
just before we crashed headlong once again
into another solid wall of confusion and misunderstanding.
What is it about your secret life
that taught you where the working brakes are?
I would ask you but I'm afraid if I spoke to you
you wouldn't hear me as well as not see me
and it seems easier
to simply keep my big toes safely up in the air
and not try and draw a red line across your path
until you've spoken to me
known something of me
melodramatic to the end
no matter what I do with my big toes.
Do you understand now why I smile so
and look up so expectantly
every time you pass by not seeing me?
Bill Johnson is the author of A Story is a Promise and The Spirit of Storytelling, a writing workbook. He is also the web master of storyispromise.com, a web site that explores principles of storytelling through reviews of popular movies, books and plays. Spirit is now available on Amazon Kindle, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004V020N0.
Follow Bill on Twitter .bjscript