Hands down, head down, the only view around is legs. Calves and shins. A few bony knees poking through. We don't look far enough to note the shoes. Hemlines and fabrics: polyester, linen, and wool. A sea of swishing pants and skirts. Swim, sick little loner. Cringe at the concept of eye contact. It doesn't matter if you're stepped on.


Benched on the bus, quiet like a locked box, looking up. So many squeezing in, scoot down, make room, sit on sister's lap. Elbow room is gone with the freedom to swing the feet. Or breathe. Hands rest on her gloves, holding on, and furtive glances show others clutching too. Poles, briefcases, loops. La, the bus lurches and brakes screech. Sister grunts. Sit still.


Crashing glass scattered and I, as always, picked up the pieces. Tongue shards that cut so deep a grown man can't cry splintered through the air, slivering. And he stood there, hands loose, deliberately doing nothing. I tell you, he simply stupors in stunned silence, swallowing anger and bile and impotence, seething in something I can't understand, while I, on the other hand, am writhing with indignance and fury and the fact that I saw the mirror before it broke and it reflected my face. Why won't he say it?


Street light switches to red and it takes a second for the traveller to look up, but it doesn't matter. He goes. The bum staggers into the street. And he goes with a forced stride, lifting his jaw, struggling for balance, hands grasping in the air. His clothes wear him, the worse for it. I see the sum total of what he has become-wrinkled and worn with the wet pavement reflecting crimson underneath his better days shoes. For that split moment, it looks like a river of blood. And I do think he walks on water. Jesus, he is awash in it and he wavers in the middle there, face turned to the sky as rain starts up again. The pallor of indigent, unwashed skin turns ghoulish as the light changes over his head to green. His head swivels and I watch him swallow hard, staring, daring the driver.waiting to go.


Though I drove on a familiar country lane toward my own home of a thousand years-I felt like a stranger, numb. A veteran from a foreign war, unarmed, and stripped of rank, blind and crippled. Yet, I could see through the tears and move through the pain, and without any conscious will, I passed water through stained glass, gasping time after time, reliving memories of my soundless life on that farm. I thought I had gone deaf until the empty seat beside me cried out in its loneliness and I felt a welling up of grief. Echoes of yesterday enveloped me again and again. And I could not deliver myself from my sweet wife's face as she cried, "Thank God you're home" before she collapsed in my arms. I was too late. How could she leave me like this?


Cornered, I rock like an autistic kid, arms wrapped around myself, singing a song that only I can hear while invisible tears roll down my cheeks and the silence inside my head deafens me to the rest of the world behind the crash of the waterfall, drowning out the music of the thrumming headache drums which set my beat. Let me out. Let me out. Let me out.


Stacked around the monitor, The Writer's Book of Wisdom mocks me and Webster's Thesaurus rolls its cover. The keyboard grows dusty scum on its numbers and the letters are worn off. These are my friends, along with the remnants of a too far gone candy bar-its wrapper crumpled and discarded without thought to the left. That, and a half empty tube of lip lube and the water bottle that sports nothing but drops on the inner wall. My inspirations and conspirators. My fingers reach for them without a glance, knowing the way to what I need. Here, I ignore the piles of mail, rejections of reality. There, in a cabinet nearby, I have locked away my whole world, copies of all that's come and gone. But I keep typing.

               Jennifer DiCamillo 2005