To explore this realm is to step through a tunnel
defying space-time, to deviate from the unknown
into an era rich in familiarity
and framed in nostalgia.
It’s easy to plant battered sneakers on
the haggard cement, but difficult to tread
from the sentimental causeway down to the
knives of summertime protruding
from their earthen sheaths.
This place is a graveyard haunted by people
and events long-since gone,
whose afterimages continue to exist
among the overgrowth and the barren gulch
that once served as a hindrance.
It was in this place that boys began their journey
to manhood, transitioned from mischievous to criminal,
entered as virgins and exited baptized.
Their footprints still
give them away in the soft sands.
Their art still colors the concrete
jettisoning from the damp underpass.
Their stained mattresses still rest
dilapidated among the symphony of insects.
Once upon a time,
I helped write the history of this place.
While warm rain fell from the sky,
I ran through the weeds with her
in the jovial preciousness
and pleasurable innocence
that exists only in youth,
before retreating underneath the causeway
and feeling her lips on mine for the first time.
Within the bitter winter,
he and I produced colorful aerosols
and imprinted our imaginations
on the mutilated cement
jetting from the waterlogged soil that anchored it.
They experimented with delinquency
in the early evening hours
while we experimented with honor using our fists.
But now I’m here,
a slow repetition of ethereal notes
sequestering me from the ambient bustle
of the surrounding world,
watching these ghosts play under the causeway
like they were antiquated home movies.
I see us as clearly as I did before,
engaging each other and our mercurial environment
with adolescent recklessness and moxie.
For as long as the causeway stands
and artifacts are left behind,
our ghosts will still
haunt the weeds, the swamp, and the starved ravine
forever attuned to burgeoning juvenescence.
Copyright 2016 by Robert L. Franklin. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.