feet on a sidewalk
Poems, Songs, Stories

Clatter and Echo: A Poem

I wrote this poem in 2011, I think, during my second semester of college. As much as I like it, I’ve yet to find a place for it, and since I’m not sure it’ll ever fit in any of my future collections — it’s not exactly a “good” poem — I’ve decided to publish it here.

As you’ll observe, it’s a series of sestains strung together to tell a story. Previously, I had thought of them as limericks, though as you likely know, those are generally humorous, and the subject here is not. So while this structure may seem like an odd choice for this poem, I think the rhythm and rhyme of it add to the tale, and perhaps the chaos of the main character’s situation.

Near the end, you may also pick up on a very (very) subtle allusion to a famous fictional female, though I won’t give it away just yet. All I’ll say is that I envisioned this poem as a kind of modern, alternate ending to her story, which, though dark, concludes on a high note.

So, for your enjoyment, here is…


Clatter and Echo

A girl in her twenties
done spent all her monies
on coffee and weed and beer;
it was all in good fun
’til the drugs had begun
to wreak havoc—cause panic, and fear.

She drank herself down
and she shot up too high
for her friends and family to reach her,
and the panic and fear
had grown far too near
for her future to look any bleaker.

So she made up her mind
to end it and climbed
to the top of a short, rusty ladder,
but the old thing, it broke
when she faltered and choked
and the fire escape fell with a clatter.

She clung to the side
of the building and tried
to figure out what could be done,
and she thought of the knife
‘could have ended her life,
the same as the blow of a gun.

Then her sweaty hands slipped
from the bricks that she gripped
and she flew past the windows below;
two stories from ground,
she made not a sound
’til she hit the pavement with an echo.

But the sound that she heard
no man, cat or bird
could have known—nor you, nor me—
for when she hit her head
she wasn’t yet dead
only hearing a voice, you see.

“Get up,” said the voice,
“you still have a choice
to live long and be set free
from the demons that ail you,
if you stand now, and stay true
to the faith that is real; follow me.”

“But what if I fail?”
she asked, growing pale,
not sure to whom she was speaking.
“You certainly will,
but I’ll carry you still
since I love you, and I am your king. ”

As the soft words went forth
in silent array,
the cops and the medics arrived;
they made way to dispose
of a body still clothed
in secrets, despair, and crime.

But the clatter and echo
still rang in her head
and the girl now desired to live;
if He wouldn’t forsake
His promise and take
all her pain, herself she would give.

“I’ve already done
and will do as you say,”
said the king with a smile she could hear,
so the girl stood right up
awake and alive
and the angels all gave a loud cheer.

The doctors were shocked
and the fuzz all abuzz
with the girl’s strange and sudden recov’ry,
but not a one could deny
that the girl had not died
and would not be reduced to a mem’ry.

“What’s your name?” someone asked,
amid glad tears and gasps,
to ensure she was really okay.
“Annabelle,” she replied
with joy in her eyes,
“but I’ve been reborn today.”

The press all aflutter,
none yet did discover
what happened to her that day,
when a voice in her head
said she wouldn’t be dead
and her chains would all fall away.

In the long years to come
her life wouldn’t be done,
nor the story of death defeated;
when asked how she did it
she’d said, “Wait a minute,
the king was the one,” and repeated:

“Clatter and echo
went the bones of my life
and now I’ve been all washed clean;
clatter and echo
went all my known strife
and now I’ve been given my dream:

“A sure, second chance
to be loved and romanced
by a God who cares about me.”
And when she stopped talking,
some people still gawking,
she found she could finally see

a new life before her,
for richer or poorer;
she raised up her hands, shouting, “Yes!
I’ll believe in you, Lord,”
and she slept, reassured
that the morning would bring her the best.



Copyright © 2019, Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum

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