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 !  On the Line

Poem

by

David E. Booker


 

Sometimes I am a brickmason, my hands laying down the Great Wall.
“Keep the barbarians out,” I mutter,
only to find they have circled ‘round, like tanks through the Argonne,
leaving me on the Maginot Line, my niggardly guns pointing out not in,
their Mongol faces smiling from space and time,
their noses long like panzers’ snouts, laughing like cannonfire at the line they
see. “It’s not long enough,” they shout. “Not long enough. There’s a crack in
Berlin.”

Berlin, Berliner, blurred line, break in the line where a snout poked through.

“She’s on the line,” my mother says, calling out to the sandbox where I’ve
recreated my line of defense.
“She just wants to feed me a line,” I answer, surveying my redoubt from
above. With a chalk line I could make sure my walls were level.

On line, firing line, finish line, end of the line, line of sight.
I did not see the line coming.

A line is a metaphorical device, the imagination connecting two ideas.
“To be or not to be.”

A line is a mathematical fiction, the imaginary connection of two points.
To be and not to be.

The bottom line: credits minus debits equals the answer. Minus, a solitary line
shoving two numbers apart. Plus, two lines in perpendicular alliance trying to form a union. Equals, two lines at rest, their work done.

Time line, deadline, credit line, “Don’t cross the picket line.”
Fishing line, realign, thin blue line, narrow line between life and death, right and wrong.
“Line up on my side,” the line-item veto, “The line forms to the rear, buddy,”
but never to the front because the front is the future and the future is made of
circles that ring out forever; the past is made of lines that grow long in your face,
broken circles laid flat by the sweep of the second hand across a clock’s face,
stretched out by gravity until a line becomes a wall, one second at a time.

But within each line lives a band of gray, narrow as the spectrum of visible light
in the line of electromagnetic radiation, but wide as the imagination connecting
two points, two people, the promise and the reality, the past and the future.

My mother holds the phone out the door. I see the line of her aged arm, the
curve of the cordless receiver tethered to a voice by radio waves, the line of the
Antenna, and the circle at the antenna’s top.

I take the phone from her. I place it to my ear.

My soul is a Mobius loop of emotions, a line twisted into a crazy eight, forever
going from and coming to where it started, always discovering there is only
one side. Promise and reality become promise again, past and future become
present and move on.

“Which side are you on?” is my opening in a long line of questions as I feel my
back against Hadrian’s Wall.

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Birds on telephone poles

Lines are concrete and metaphorical, made of gravel and graphite, objects and emotions -- and all are real, having impacts far beyond their immediate existences.


David E. Booker struggles to learn about web site building, writing, and fatherhood. He lives in a 100-year-old house where pieces of congealed coal dust can be heard caroming through the whole-house vacuum hose as they are sucked up from between the slats in the heart pine floor.
To learn a little more about him, go to David E. Booker >>

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