Tess over at The mag posted this image of the painting, Under the Windsor bridge, 1912, by Adolphe Valette. While the image didn't spark an immediate poem, it did remind me a bit of a little spot in the city I live in. Just outside the courthouse on Main street is a set of stairs that go down to the river. The stairs go below the highway that runs behind the courthouse; a highway that has at least four names that I know of. Driving on the highway you would never know that the road is actually a bridge at that point, and the stairs go under the road.
I can only imagine why they built the stairs, maybe to transport people to and from court, on the river. At times I imagined three men in a boat, one rowing, one chained to his seat, and one with a scatter gun, coming to the stairs. The chained man to be brought to justice, and maybe the gallows. This was a rough town, a mill town, and for a time the state capital…and the end of the Oregon Trail.
I would imagine those things, would give life to the rower, Cliff, who got a silver piece to row the leaky boat those miles to the courthouse. Thomas the guard, whose wife should have given birth to their third child by now, Thomas not being there because he had to track down the runner. And the runner, a good looking young man, who killed a man over liquor and gambling…may also have had a bit to do with a brunette named Jane. His name was John Landers, and probably by this time tomorrow he would be doing the dance at the end of the rope, after which the judge and the bailiff would smoke some opium in the den just down the street.
I would imagine these things as I walked slowly down the stairs. I would flesh out their lives, as mine was slowly ending. I would imagine these things as I made my way down the stairs to my home for the evening, my meager bed under the bridge downtown…that almost no one knows is there.
Chris McQueeney 8/19/12 10:51 P.M.
A wolf spider sat
Upon my hand
Beautiful in its
I screamed like
A little girl
As if jolted by
The spider had
Chris McQueeney 8/19/12 12:38 P.M.