by Douglas Cole
I was walking on a path on a cliff above the ocean in a heavy fog. I heard sea waves gathering a great in-take of breath followed by silence, then the falling of waves on shore like a long exhale. Then I came upon a tower, a sculpture made of driftwood. A man was fitting pieces into it, but I only caught a glimpse of him. He was thin with a pale beard and flashing eyes and long fingers twisted like the sticks he held. When he saw me, he moved behind the sculpture. I reached out and touched it and looked into the wickerwork of its elaborate structure so high that fog engulfed it above, so complex that I couldn’t see through it. Then I saw movement within, climbers ascending and descending. My hand brushed a knob, and looking down I saw a skull. The sculpture was in truth made of bones. “Whose bones are these?” I asked, though I couldn’t see the sculptor. I heard him answer, “They come from all over.” I moved around the tower, trying for another glimpse of him. “What does it mean?” I asked, touching the arch of a rib. “The last story we ever tell,” he said. I gripped the bone rungs, pushed against the sculpture and felt it move, a great fine moveable weight. I said, “Even these will disintegrate one day.” I let go and the tower swayed back into place. “There’ll be more,” he said. “The dead don’t need their bones.” “That’s true,” I said, circling, trying for another glimpse of him. “What do the dead need?” Through the sculpture, I heard him say, “New eyes.” I laughed, changing direction, but it was a game such that whenever I moved he moved also and I never could see him.
Douglas Cole has published four collections of poetry: Interstate (Night Ballet Press); Western Dream, (Finishing Line Press), The Dice Throwers, (Liquid Light Press), Bali Poems (Wordtech Press), as well as a novella, Ghost (Blue Cubicle Press). His work is in anthologies such as Best New Writing (Hopewell Publications), Bully Anthology (Kentucky Stories Press) and Coming Off The Line (Mainstreet Rag Publishing). His work also appears or is forthcoming in journals such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, Owen Wister Review, Iconoclast, Slipstream, Red Rock Review, Wisconsin Review, Two Thirds North, San Pedro River Review, Badlands, Common Ground Review, The Ocean State Review, and Midwest Quarterly. He received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry; the Best of Poetry Award from Clapboard House; and First Prize in the “Picture Worth 500 Words” from Tattoo Highway. His website is douglastcole.com.