I was taking my five o’clock walk and was about to turn down the street I had lived on all my life when I suddenly realized it wasn’t that street at all. It was a street I had never seen before. This is what happens when you do things automatically. You stop seeing what’s around you. Like the fact that, at this moment, a crack in the sidewalk was rapidly widening into a deep gorge. I stopped just in time, peering down at a blue river far below. The whole gorge was bathed in the kind of pink glow you sometimes see at dawn that makes you want to jump out of bed and set off on an adventure. Long I stood there, oblivious to the honking traffic and sirens. I eyed a narrow ledge winding down along the walls, and a parade of people merrily laughing and singing as they descended into the depths. I thought I heard the faint strain of a drinking song I once knew in college. I waved and one of them waved back, inviting me to join them. I was just about to do so when I observed farther down that both the ledge and the parade came to an abrupt end as, one by one, people jumped into the gorge, all flapping their arms for a time as they plummeted to their certain deaths. Why did they flap their arms, I wondered? And why on earth didn’t they stop? Were they all insane? In vain, I yelled at them, but the mad procession continued in a grim wave of falling, flapping specks of humanity. Helplessly, I stared down at the river, oh so blue it broke my heart. And in that moment, I suddenly understood all the mysteries of life and death and the pull of a river that could make someone follow it wherever it leads. I felt an irresistible urge to join them. It was then that I realized that the gorge was slowly closing as the hidden world zipped shut beneath me, leaving nothing but a crack in the sidewalk. I stood there, befuddled. Then I realized my mistake. I had taken a left instead of a right. Resuming my walk, I resolved to pay better attention to where I am going.
Gene Twaronite is a Tucson poet, essayist, and children’s fiction writer. He is the author of ten books, including two juvenile fantasy novels as well as collections of essays, short stories, and poems. His poetry book Trash Picker on Mars (Kelsay Books) was the winner of the 2017 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Arizona poetry. His latest poetry collection is The Museum of Unwearable Shoes. Follow more of Gene’s writing at his website: thetwaronitezone.com.