Untraveling Haibun by Daryl Scroggins
Bridge words: furthermore…moreover…finally…. Twenty people crossing one bridge, or twenty bridges crossed by one person, as Wallace Stevens has it. At stream’s edge in the park I see part of a late evening sky as if through a stranger’s eye, the sun down behind hills, clouds, just bereft of color, now ash. I imagine it’s a linguist who sits across the way on a bench eating a soft-serve ice cream cone. He is wondering why his hair is still red. All passing on the path are Hiroshige to him. Or Werner Heisenberg and his new wife, long ago on bicycles, still uncertain in that way that looks away a little too often. He thinks of how quaint it is to see a woman wearing a dress slow her bicycle and step to ground before the seat, both hands clutching the handlebars.
I see him rise and walk to a slanting trash barrel with his paper napkin. But not yet there he stops. A side glance has shown him a book someone has dropped at path’s edge. Trash bin; book; trash bin; book. Sky.
Moreover he doesn’t want to look at the book. He realizes he is afraid to look at the book, to have to know what it is, to have its half-eaten story. Metaphorical implications become a sudden cloying sweetness, as of honeysuckle in the air. He fears that the book may bring a kind of punchline, its fit eliciting a grimace, and not wonder so much as a confirmation that he is sick. The word Rich arrives, of course; each thing is so many; he had a toy snowman when he was a child, and he loved it for its covering of pearl chips that sparkled like ice, but he had handled it so often that it was soon dull, and sometimes at night the moon would come in and he would see a bright speck on his own arm, there on the bank and drift of bed covers.
I think the linguist wants to go home now. Miles to go. He tries to remember where he has left his car.
takes up the whole allotment
of his syllables
Daryl Scroggins lives in Marfa, Texas. His most recent book is This Is Not the Way We Came In, a collection of flash fiction and a flash novel (Ravenna Press).