And now you walk away from this again, the most natural and magical and compelling thing I've ever had the chance to witness or imagine could exist between two people. The bridge screams above me, the sound of the whole Antarctic ice shelf coming apart in one focused moment of car exhaust and coal power plants and CFCs, the cracking of brain and heart and hope. Then comes a fusillade of Mauser rifles and Maxim machine guns as the guy wires begin snapping under the strain of a deck warping like an oscilloscope, and I'm the man leaping, rifle in hand, tin soup bowl helmet on head, to impale himself in the wire. I'm the January shipwreck on the shoals around your island paradise, deckhands leaping into the frigid waves while their captain sits down in his chair, sings some long forgotten song and pours himself a last glass. I'm the bottle that, caught in a furious undertow, shatters under the pressure of the ocean's depths long before it reaches a shoreline where you might stand to welcome the message I carry. I'm the guy who drove his car out onto this bridge in the midst of its death throes and I'm the engineer who missed last week's lecture on resonant frequency.
The wind is wailing through the Narrows as you walk away again, and all the conifers on the slopes above me shrink away like the men of the 7th Infantry fleeing the deadly freeze and blizzard of steel that swept down the mountains at the Chosin Reservoir. My hands frozen by the gales, I'm the North Korean peasant farmer tearing bark from the last of the beautiful trees of his homeland to fill his famine stomach. I'm the hills of grain kept locked in a military storehouse and never given the chance to fill anyone with warmth and life. I'm a bag of all the letters lost to January winds and the miserable powerlessness on the face of all the senders who expected replies. I'm standing in the snow and the waves sigh as they strike the crumbling beach, and I'm sitting in Leonard Coatsworth's car as it is tossed this morning into Puget Sound.
And now you walk away from this again, and the steel deck plates twist and shout, and I brace myself against the screaming cold and pore over alone what we may have lost. And I'm the man looking at you, through the wires or on the bus, knowing that you're the one. And you're the one walking away again.