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I AM NOT LITERALLY A PERSON UNDER A BRIDGE + fiction by Michael Seidel


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Shallow barbs of stone in the low river stop me under the Bellerton Bridge. I pull my raft onto the sack of damp sand along the concrete abutment. Here, below the crossed wires of heavy traffic, I reassemble my plank bed, ten foot high, and climb up.
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Before I left, I found a human heart in a moving box.
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I closed the lid and wrote “miscellaneous” in permanent marker.
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For so long, I put angry effort into staying strangers.
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This may have contributed to things.
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I stared into the belly buttons of thieves and worse.
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When I spoke to her, all that came out were radio tones for terrible weather.
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On the surface of my plank, cedar spoors have begun to bloom. My skin has blanched completely in the bridge’s shadow. Even my hair is white.
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I’m living mostly on minnows I catch through the ice, suspect winter berries, and crumbs from the chip bags I climb down to collect a few afternoons a week, mainly when rush hour begins to drive me too mad.
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When there’s wind, the leaves in the trees over my plank sounds like the death rattle of every person I’ve ever known.
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This winter the river looks dry-rotted. Water moves through spots of ice like the squirming inside a microscope.
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I’ve learned: A river contains no secrets.
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None.
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Not until you wade out into it and recite everything you’ve never been able to say aloud.
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A river is only meant to push things along, out of itself, into a body bigger than its own.
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Each morning, a dog, grossly German but grandly American, wanders below my plank and looks up at me like I’ll throw something down. I can’t figure out if he’s expecting food or a rock. He looks neither anxious nor scared, just ready for whatever it may be.
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xxxxxxx
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MICHAEL SEIDEL is a lighthouse at the bottom of an empty bottle inside which resides an old man with an impenetrable beard who wears a nice warm coat most the time and doesn’t read the news because nothing is ever small enough.

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