At the corner of validation and forgot

At the corner of validation and forgot

1920 1281 Robert Rife

At this drunken shoreline, patterns return, in

the quilted quiet. I can revel again in spiced hours,

deaf to the biker-ghosts, bad-mouthing

this demure, paper posture.

Thoughts are a little rumpled, like the sea,

what with these ferocious memories; their un-manacled,

easy way, and dreams, cottonwood-fringed,

blown out into the world.

This world I am watching.

* * * * *

She walks down the street, intent upon

locking every wandering glance; stolen stares from

other hungers. Sad limbs, built for laughing strolls,

carry instead their weight in

desperation, the roll call gestures of

fragmentary magnetism. To look down is to invalidate,

the one thing that renders such creatures immobilized.

She never looks straight on. Being seen but

unknown has honed a peripheral awareness

to a hawk-like precision. It’s the hollow

look of the lonely.

* * * * *

Such a tiny dog for such an imposing guy.

It must have something to do with an ill-

fitting black t-shirt. I still love AC/DC, too. But

the designer sunglasses match the grey goatee and flip

flops well enough to doubt the bravado, question

the impartial coarseness; his language just color-

ful enough to hide the deeper grey.

The fear of more.

* * * * *

Her weighty eyes climb his rusting frame; a gaze

made full in the weight of familiarity. His jaw-

line, thin, like his tired neck, perches on

shoulders, stooped, but unburdened by

neat and tidy, pressed, quick, or stoic. Endless pages

pass between their easiness, two souls in single,

unflinching presence. He remembers less

than the love she feels, spoken through his

wrinkled palm in hers, their fingers entwined.

The tapestry of their years.

* * * * *

The penny arcade discoveries of wide-mouthed boys –

more magic through a cheap telescope than I in

the pretense of self-imposed juxtapositions. Their cocky, self-

assured swagger breathes the new air, heedless of my

artless anxiety in their art of care-less play. Can voices

really be that loud? So much more gets spoken in

the repetitions of unpracticed

wisdom. Their code is a skateboard sculpture. A

universe, flat with four wheels. Soon,

when fearful complexities begin to gnaw

through the ropes that tether youth to

moments and days, will they remember

this foolish display of seaside

time, gloriously wasted?

* * * * *

This guy has no story to tell. At least

that’s what is suggested in the gymnastic

dodging of eyes and steps from

that hand. Oh, that hand, weary, upturned for

that drop of grace found in spare quarters, lost

among our Visa receipts. Well-rehearsed

well-wishing will never match the possibility of just

one good conversation. His stench, reminder of loss,

friendship’s nemesis, gift of forgottenness,

taunts him. It’s one more reason to avoid him.

He owns nothing.

But he kept his skateboard.

* * * * *

A few hundred waves and a tide later, a laptop

overheats my knees. It reads 17%, the same possibility

I’ll remember their faces by the weekend. For,

like them, I am just another stigma;

another story waiting to be written.

Unwritten.

Rewritten,

here on the corner of

validation and forgot.


 

Robert Rife

My friends think me complicated. My employer thinks me talented but at times, troublesome. God, and my wife see me as I am - a philosopher-poet with a rather circuitous journey of life and faith, the music and worship minister at Yakima Covenant Church, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, poet and writer. I am a graduate from Spring Arbor University with an M.A. in Spiritual Formation and Leadership. These poems, and my life, are dedicated to those places where life, liturgy, theology and the arts intersect with and promote spiritual formation – who we are becoming. Join me on this journey to word-land. Maybe we'll find each other there and share a story or two.

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