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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)

TITLE: Crossing at the bridge
By Helen Paynter
08/06/08


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Crossing at the bridge.

There is a public death, a sort of
sport, with human quarry
hunted down by beasts.

It came to us, that fevered spring, spraying off
machete blades like ripe fruit
splatted.

It came, long feared, as bloody daylight
stained the east. We stumbled
from uneasy sleep and fled.

We fled the strong, the fast bruising scrub-grass
with our scrabbling feet. Behind us lay
the weak, multiplied in death.

We reached the bridge the strand of hope
that looped above the frenzied water;
aiming to thread ourselves across
to refuge.

They cut us off.

They cut us off, and sunlight stabbed,
flashing from wielded steel.

Corpse-stifled, I, enditched alive;
the piles of dead still rank
with sweat and fear.

I watched.

I watched them cross my mother,
brother; fifty merry mothers, a hundred
likely lads.

I watched them cross from life to death,
and only I remained.


Lest we forget
Dedicated to all the victims of genocide past, present - and future.



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This article has been read 643 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 08/09/08
Oh my! Incredible imagery. The last stanza especially was quite unforgettable.
Arlene Showalter 08/10/08
O my. This is gripping. Totally. Great job.
Pat Guy 08/11/08
Yes, a chilling reminder worded so poignantly, vividly and hauntingly. You've been missed Helen.
Mariane Holbrook08/12/08
Oh my! I have clicked onto a masterpiece written by a master of everything she writes. What a truly compelling piece. Kudos. Big time, Helen!
Shirley McClay 08/12/08
Oh wow... every word painted a picture and stirred emotions. Amazing.
Joshua Janoski08/12/08
I appreciate the explanation that you gave at the end. At first I read this and didn't quite understand what was being discussed, but then I went back and re-read it after your explanation, and all I can say is WOW! Masterful word usage here. Thank you for sharing this.
Jan Ackerson 08/13/08
I just now got around to reading a few entries, and I knew immediately that this was yours--no one else I know has your unique combination of tremendous talent and even more tremendous compassion. This had "Helen" stamped all over it. Outstanding, and I hope it gets the recognition it deserves!
Anne Linington08/14/08
To say so much in just a few words is amazing..I had pictured the Somme or Bridge over the river Kwai, so appreciated the wide-ranging explanation at the end. Congratulations.
Betsy Markman08/14/08
Wow. Amazing to think that so many people have actually lived (and died) through such realities. Well done.
Sherry Wendling09/21/08
Helen, how satisfying to find this piece after my long hiatus from FW! As usual, your breathtaking imagery transports me straight out of my comfort zone with bold, sweeping strokes of artistry. . You used the concise power of free verse to draw me into the horror, to actually identify compassionately with something I can only imagine in a nightmare. Unforgettable!