The Stranger

The madman walks through the street, oddly dressed
Some nod, some smirk, some keep their distance
Wary eyes at their corners, keeping guard
He moves on, uncaring or oblivious
Standing then in the middle of an open field at the edge of town
Watched by others with pity in their eyes
He starts to sway, his arms outstretched like a crucifix
His palms facing heaven, his hands pointing down
As if stuck in some firmament, his fingers curl

The ground shakes, and at the time, we don’t connect the two, cause and effect
People run to doorways as champagne flutes, crystal mice and glass unicorns jitter-bug to the edge, and then oblivion
Around him the earth heaves like a new dawn
Giant sheets of rusted iron like red ribbon conceal him, then lift him up
We stand in silenced awe
The whole city sinks with the great displacement of transmogrified clay
An impossible tower of ten thousand scarlet strips
Stairs cling to the exterior and spiral up around the tower’s impossible bulk
We begin our desperate pilgrimage to the high point
The wind clawing at us, the stairs calling like crows
The tower rocks with each great gust
We call out to the stranger but no one answers
The path leads up, and sometimes down
Yet we push on through the aftershocks of sudden transformation

At the top, there is no one.
The stranger is gone.
All that remains is a tiny inscription that reads,
“I have always loved you”.


Author: Joseph

Writer, educator, and bon vivant.