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Photograph by Monique Rardin Richardson

The Headline Read
Number Forty

by Monique Rardin Richardson

the san francisco fog must have roiled

in deep on that grim september eve 

each star dimmed, and the crescent moon

sensed a change swirling in the wild wind


a buick pulled aside and a middle-aged man

tossed a battered, leather wallet on the seat 

and ran across the span of  cracked

and weathered  concrete 


his children and wife saw him climb the railing

of the bridge and wrap his arms around the bars

like a tattered, twisted kite  

then vanished as if covered by a magician's cloth


four breaths waited for him to reappear

the water braced for impact of another in despair

but the body struck a girder, and only tears salted

the waves when his frame struck the deck

thirty-five feet below


a truck driver stopped,

an ambulance appeared

sirens screamed, throughout

the open city streets


the headline in the morning read number forty

while people drank their folger's

and crunched on buttered toast 


i've met with my grandfather, he sits in an urn   

would I even have been born if on that night he chose

a different turn?

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