Winter’s end is a carcass lying in the ditch, a yellowed sagging thing. The blackened bones of the earth jut through its sloughing skin. Dead grass litters the roadside like tangled hair. She was an ugly one.
And I am ugly too, today, rife with headache and a lesser bridge-troll’s interpersonal sensibilities. I have had simply enough. The world is disorderly, in constant need of wrangling and permanently on the edge of fatal error. I don’t feel that I have a kindred soul alongside for this. “Oh, well, we’ll get it when it matters, it’ll all be fine” doesn’t keep things running smoothly.
It’s the troll under the bridge does that. Looks for the cracks before they’re visible on the surface. Watches the floodwater levels. Fights off the dark haunts of the night in order to do it all again tomorrow.
Winter’s end is her own kind of haint. Her carcass self brings the burning of bridges.
In winter’s end, I go away from all I once loved and wanted. Though it’s been darkness to me the last few years, it’s been my darkness. I’ve gotten comfortable under its lid, lying unnoticed and watching for the roof to crack. Patching it all back together over and over again, not sure why. Dreaming of anyplace else.
Dreams are dangerous. Anyplace else has come to find me, and it has taken me prisoner.
My strength is gone after ten years of patching things back together. My back’s weak and untrustworthy. My knees give out when I climb the ladder for the harrumphteenth time. My hands are crippled twins, shot with pain from wielding trowels of various kinds. I have built my home at great cost.
But this world is a crumbling thing. The wind wears away at the lonely shores, and the stars fall down through the northern night. The home I have made goes too, out to sea.
My ocean is prairie, cold and tossed with frozen swells. It is both beachhead and rolling wave, poised in icy sculpted form over roadsides and fence lines. Winter is leaving late and reluctant this year, dragging spring down under the ice in hopes of killing her by hypothermia.
My bridge is falling down.
What’s an aging woman to do? I’ll be forty in a few years, and the toll I’ve paid in health may not be recoverable by then. I must let anyplace else come for me, and perhaps I’ll have the chance to live again. Perhaps I’ll find health and peace in the sunlight I’ve forgotten.
Free of cracks and patches and holding my roof together in this place I built with my hands.
It’s sturdy enough, now, and it’ll do fine for whatever takes up residence next. There’s good cement, fine tilework, even wood and walls and washed glass windows.
May it do well for the next one. My chains are on me. Paper chains like a child’s festive garland, made with her own hands’ work. Decorated with numbers, signatures and contract terms.
I am already sold to anyplace else. When the frozen waves melt into larksong, I am gone.