An Enigma at the Lectern

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/10/08

It was not a wharf, nor the remains of a pier,
But simply an enormous concrete cube,
Precipitously huge above a roisterous
Turquoise sea. The cube has been placed
Here, as if by some extraterrestrial race
Of not wholly-beneficent overseers,
Its very presence defying the safety-obsessed
City planners. Finally — terminally — the cube
Reminds the citizenry of the dangers
Still lurking in the turbulent coils of beauty.
All this elaborate construction of rebar
And cement, of prodigious modifiers,
And homely nouns has been razed
Especially from the neurological debris
Of one who lives perpetually on the edge —
Let’s call him “The Reader” — and, therefore,
It is fitting that this edge should be an obtuse,
Useless cube. The rest of the story follows,
Almost inevitably. One day, hurrying,
As always, to fulfill or avoid some responsibility,
The Reader finds, poised just so, arms spread wide,
Tottering, tottering, at the farthest verge
Of the great superfluous block, a toddler,
Of about two, stark, stark naked, against
The mountainous backdrop of untamed waters.
Alarmed, he gasps, he rushes, he gathers her in his arms.
He knows the mother, a busy, self-important,
Professional, without a husband,
But where is she? And how did this child
Get here by herself? And why, why, is she
So ecstatically attracted to such murderous elevations?
The Reader picks up the infant and holds her
Close to his body, and she fits there, the baby,
As if her contours completed something
Missing in himself. He wonders — The Reader—
How he will find the mother, and why was he
Chosen, alone, of all the citizens, to read
These words? He wonders, too, how it will end,
This exposition? With a concrete image,
Free of the taint of infancy? Or with something
Beautiful and dangerous, like the sea?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.