Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Crybaby Bridge

I had scarcely made it home, wet with rain,
shivering, cold,
when my lover's longed for steps
creaked across the porch.
Hurriedly, I dried my eyes,
smoothed my hair, grabbed the wine;
then, took a breath and took my time
strolling to the door.

I'd met him not that long ago,
but it was before I'd begun to show,
and his travels quickly took him
safely far away.
So, he never saw the belly.
I never felt the need to tell him
that another man had had me
and had me in the family way.

He's a gentleman of quality;
wealthy and above me.
No trick with a mewling bastard
could ever wear his ring.
So I hid myself away
from prying eyes; no one could say
that I was anything less than a lady
or hint at impropriety.

I labored and delivered
all alone in early winter.
Christmas brought his letter;
he'd return on New Year's Eve.
Infant at my breast,
I counted myself blessed
that I'd get what I deserved - the best!
Just like I'd dreamed.

But what of my mistake?
I knew he'd never take
me and some farmboy's leavings
to his mansion on the hill.
Should I weep and beg forgiveness,
or, knowing there's no witness,
should I resolve this ugly business
in whatever way I will?

I waited for a wicked night
to keep all ears and eyes inside,
and when the countryside was quiet,
I took the ice kissed road
and made my way to rot wood bridge
just the other side of the ridge
took my sacrifice to the edge
and let it fall to the dark below.

Now, the future's at my door.
Everything I've waited for.
Nothing binds me anymore.
I slowly turn the knob.
But standing there instead
of my love is old Sheriff Ned;
hat pulled from his head, he says,
"I'm sorry for your loss.

Found your man's rig in a ditch
just t'other side of the ridge.
He was standing on the edge of the bridge;
I tried to talk him down.
But he didn't seem to hear me.
He kept hollering about a baby.
Then he jumped, and he went under
and, God bless the man, he drowned."

Of course, they ruled it suicide.
No one else heard a child that night,
and none was found though they dragged
the river edge to edge.
But late at night ever since
I went mad and he went in,
you can hear that brat wail witness
beneath Crybaby Bridge.

Process Note: Nearly every state has at least one Crybaby Bridge, it seems.  Versions vary, but the tale usually involves some sort of accident on the bridge that results in the death of a child.  The cries of the child can then be heard on dark, stormy nights, etc.  This is my take on the Crybaby story for Grapeling's prompt at Real Toads.


Sylvia K said...

This is gut/heart wrenching, MZ! You do know how to paint an amazing picture and I'm so glad you share.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most potent poems I've ever read.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Ohhhh we kept me bent to the screen to the end. Potent and gut-wrenching as noted above. I have no more to say.

Grandmother (Mary) said...

A sad tale of many generations of women

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Whoa! this is gripping and so full of tension, I havent yet started breathing. This would make a good short story or movie plot. Life is ironic in just this way. Tense, powerful writing, Mama Zen.

Susan said...

Wow! Horror multiplied! You tell a good story: rhyme, meter and all.

Fireblossom said...

Nice gal. You've written a helluva good story here, MZ.

Mark Kerstetter said...

Like a country song gone wrong. Very wrong.

Hannah said...

Amazing!! Mama make it look so effortless! I LOVE what became of this for you. So many layers to this story - so very filling. :)

Hannah said...

Amazing!! Mama make it look so effortless! I LOVE what became of this for you. So many layers to this story - so very filling. :)

Susie Clevenger said...

Oh my, this is so tragic/dark...great stuff!!

Anonymous said...

oh, MZ, this is perfect. made me look up the Chieftain's song, The Long Black Veil, to which I'm now listening. thank you for adding your voice ~

Kerry O'Connor said...

I always find such tales of tangled fortune incredibly sad. Here my sympathy lies with the good man who tried to save an unknown baby from drowning, not for the heartless woman who threw it in.

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Loved, loved this MZ!

Anonymous said...

Words count, but sometimes tales count more ... I've save this for the third and final round of stories from the prompt, not expecting it at all and getting so richly rewarded. Hedgewtich's contribution is like a doppler to this one, excavating what was buried here. When this speaker's mouth opens, bones drop out: the magnitude's in the long reel of bad things done for imagined good ends. Crybaby Bridge is where they always start looking when the next child disappears. Great stuff.

Kim Nelson said...

Edgar Allen Poe. You. On Par.

Sioux said...

I'm so glad you went long on this one.

A chilling tale, well-told.