( 'The Highwayman' Pastiche) Chris D.
His white breath hung on darkness a column of small ghosts|
His steps broke through the snow's crust with a whisper 'Lost . . . Lost . . . Lost'
as he walked out from the highway into the spruce/birch brush.
His steps shattered the silence,
the fragile midnight silence,
then faded again to silence, to winter's endless hush.
Knit hat, a letterman's jacket and unlaced tennis shoes
his jeans were carefully ragged, but stylish acid-wash blues.
His walk was a young man's swagger a strut in peacock gait
His walk was a peacock swagger
a young man's half-drunk stagger.
He moved with a reckless swagger to a dark uncertain fate.
Behind a car stood steaming, run into a roadside berm.
A D-U-I would mean jail time, and this time a six month term.
He just wasn't able to face it, once more disappoint them all.
So he walked out into the silence
the crystalline white silence,
entranced by music of silence, following midnight's call.
Somewhere a mother fretted, she tossed in a tangled bed
and a worried girlfriend waited, hoped he'd driven home instead.
Around him the nighttime sparkled, with the glint of frost on air
as he looked for quiet asylum.
sought refuge, sought asylum.
He searched for a still asylum, from failures he couldn't bear.
The stars reflected off hoarfrost, the white matte of the snow.
Trees silhouetted on star fields. His eyes didn't notice them though -
his glance had turned toward memory, to a time when tomorrow seemed bright..
He trudged through silent darkness
walked through the frigid darkness
losing himself in the darkness of the spirit's moonless night.
And the swagger turned to a stumble, a shuddering hesitant stride.
Memories turned to numbness, where cold came from inside
The present turned to nightmare, phantasms of failure and fall
as he traveled terrains of winter
the dismal desolate winter.
He walked to the heart of the winter, heeding its bleakest call.
The telephone rang at his mother's, as his girlfriend checked around
'Have you heard from Chris since evening?' 'No. I haven't heard a sound.'
And neither spoke her worry, but the pause spoke loud and long
a muffled sob of silence
a gasp of anxious silence.
They both felt dreadful silence, boding of something wrong.
No word on the car 'til April. A registered letter arrived.
They were selling the car for tow fees. The search for the lost revived.
A blizzard had shifted the snow-pack, not a track or a trace remained
The deadfalls' moss stayed frozen.
The barren birch stood frozen
and streams were ice, hard frozen in the winter's last domain.
They hoped he'd hitched the Alcan, run away as a young man might.
They hoped he'd call from a phone booth, in the middle of some night.
They hoped he'd send back a letter. But he never did you know
and I think of a young man walking
imagine a young man walking
cold, lonely, walking, walking, in the dark at forty below.
They scoured the stretch where he vanished, but they never found a clue.
They talked to boys he'd hung with. Asked me about him too.
They put up picture posters. 'Do you recognize this face?'
And his mother kept on searching
and the girlfriend kept on searching
Folks and friends just kept on searching, for years but they found no trace.
He'd had a happy high school, but then couldn't find a role
and he drank some, and he idled. I suspect both took their toll
He found no place as a grown-up, in a world that won't much care
if a young man takes to walking
in the wild lands, goes out walking
if a young man keeps on walking, 'til he simply isn't there.
On occasion they find strewn bones of some lost and luckless soul
His mother's gone but the girlfriend, twice-married now, grown old
will hope it's Chris returning, but its always someone else.
Only winter knows the secret.
But the winter keeps its secrets.
Winter holds so many secrets. And the winter never tells.
In the January nighttime, in the dark phase of the moon
when a cold front's come and settled, and it won't be leaving soon
there - just outside the headlights - as I drive out, far from town
I can see a movement - walking
not a moose, but human walking.
Shadows shift, as if the walking of a young man - head cast down.
If you see a young man drifting, vague as smoke on winter air
though he's careless cool and hazy -it may mask a dark despair
though he's stoic, non-responsive seems completely self-contained
yet don't leave him lonely, walking
down the darkness, slowly walking.
Don't leave that young man walking, all alone through cold terrain.
This story, with a great deal of poetic license, is about a highschool friend.
By tony parsons
© 2014 tony parsons
(All rights reserved)