This is neither a rising nor a falling action. They are elsewhere. She's glad she's here. They are happy enough here, not talking. They are thinking & watching the water fold in on itself.
Smooth warp of the water, solid warmth of early or late light through cool air. Is this morning or evening. Is this a memorial. The world spins slow & drifts.
They can carry their own boat, thank you.
She thinks about her. She didn't, she doesn't, know much about her. She doesn't know what to think about her. She doesn't know what to think as she thinks about her, sliding along the road, across the watery winter ground.
Here she is, returning, dragging her giant shadow.
Somewhere else, an old house is being pulled down. This is a good thing, a falling action, the walls spent from standing. This is just work to be done: taking care of an already ruined thing.
The sun burns along the tree-line. The late hour is heavy with light, but night will & does finally fall. Is this a test. Someone is gone or missing.
Everything’s broken by & soaked in strong tones: what was, what may be, what might have been.
They talked, they would have liked to talk, like this.
Morningtime slides along grooves & the pedals rise & fall as she bikes to work. Her thoughts, too, move steadily in grooves. They loop & overlap. She follows herself tracing these worn paths, these woven grooves. Is she somewhere else, on some other side.
Her pedal-pulses rise & fall & she slides toward work.
This is work. This is a good or a bad thing: transactions, repetitions, the clatter of plastic on plastic. Such fluorescent clarity, so many goods. People & things endure, she thinks, but they slide around, fade, change places, get lost.
But a little abandonment is in order, too. It feels good to be pushed around by your friends. It feels good to swerve & rattle, to move fast across the floor, through the aisles, through the clothes & toys.
This is falling, a falling action. It is a tough break. There is another side. This is the other side. Is this a test. Where is she. She returns to herself. Elsewhere.
Everything’s soaked in strong tones, heavy with light.
And why wouldn’t she call. They would have said things, back & forth. Her voice trailed off. To hear each other's ghost is a small struggle & a great pleasure. Their voices trailed off, would have trailed off, then returned. They return to each other, elsewhere.
Something somewhere is burning. Something is burning at the edge of the day. They hurry across the ground, toward the fire. They hurry toward the edge of the day. They don’t speak. They don’t soar over the burning thing. Is this a memorial. There is a rising action. This is a rising action.
They wait, then they start over.
John Harkey lives in Columbus, GA, where he teaches high-school English. He received his Ph.D from the CUNY Graduate Center, where his dissertation was on "small poetry." A few of his poems can be found online, and his chapbook Mask Work was published by Little Red Leaves.