James LePore: Project 52/2015: The Poet

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14814_1834844lImage: Cleaning Woman, © James LePore


Die, mocking birds,

magic servers of the night’s futile dreams.

Die, and be eaten by the morning sun.

Rise again at evening, if you dare,

and fly on the night’s cold wings,

whispering to me of sin and folly

and the brittle hope of eternity.

I didn’t know anyone where I was living. No one made eye contact. Everyone seemed so busy. It was like I was already dead and invisible to them. I accepted this. I felt I would eventually fit in. I went to the church because I started having dreadful dreams, which were not so easy to accept. Birds, black ones, were attacking me, pecking at me, flying away and then returning to attack again. I would wake up and scan my body for cuts or bruises which I was certain I would find, but I never did. In church I tried to pray, but found I couldn’t. I thought it would be easy but it wasn’t. I was totally separated from God, and from man. I gave up and just sat there.

I saw the church’s cleaning woman a lot, but we never talked. She thought I was praying and left me alone. I watched her sometimes out of the corner of my eye. Her body would tilt as she carried the mop and bucket from place to place and then slowly set them down. She stopped occasionally to wipe her brow with her sleeve. She did not hurry, nor dawdle, just did her job.

I began wanting to make contact with her. Look at me, look at me, I said to myself. One day, she did. We made eye contact, and in my head I heard her say, You aren’t dead. You will never die.

Then she looked away, and went back to her mopping. She was smiling. She knew that I could pray then, that I could even write poetry if I wanted.


About Project 52/2015: I like to take pictures and I like to write fiction. This Blog will combine the two in what I am calling Project 52/2015, one of my images mated with a piece of very short fiction each week in 2015. Enjoy.

James LePore is the national bestselling author of numerous novels, most recently, God’s Formula, which he wrote with Carlos Davis. Visit his website.

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