Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Westminster Bridge, 1947

Terry Collett


Westminster Bridge was busy. A vast wave of humanity swept over it with each particle having its own thoughts, dreams, desires, fears, each one going to their own death at a given time and place. But no one seemed to notice Miss Framer as she stood in the middle of the bridge looking over at the river, dull and murky. She seemed, in her turn, not to notice the passing waves of people that swept by her; she had her own priorities. Even Wordsworth’s lyrics that leaked in and out of her brain were of no comfort. She turned them over in her mind like a boiled sweet in the mouth: Earth has not anything to show more fair. She sighed. Leaned over, stared at the waters below. Henry would have loved this, she mused, he would have stood here with me now and all this would have been different. But Henry never returned from the War. He had died a week before it ended. Bad luck, a friend of his had written; that’s what war is in the end. A matter of luck, good or bad. Then she had met Leonard. It had been too soon and he had been a different kind of man. Not a patch on Henry, she thought brushing a few loose strands of hair from her face. "Why have you come here, Millie?" she asked herself, leaning on her elbows, for a better look at the dull murkiness beneath the bridge. She came because it had attracted her as she passed on the bus the previous day; the very spot she stood on now had somehow drawn her the day before. She looked across at the Houses of Parliament. Her father had crossed here every day for years on his way to work at one of the ministries. Occasionally at weekends, he would take her and her sister Lily across the bridge to the Abbey around the corner. Poor Lily. She’d not recovered from the breakdown after the air raids, had been encased in some asylum in the country outside London. But that seemed old news now. Since Leonard had left two months ago, she had been alone in the pokey one-roomed flat. Now she’d discovered she was carrying his child. She dreaded that, dreaded it like hell itself. She pressed her hand against her stomach, felt nauseous, felt her world had turned upside down and she was falling into some dark pit. She sighed. Clutched at her stomach. Spat over the bridge. Phlegm, not vomit. The water looked inviting. She leaned over. Just a minute or two, just a few gulps for air, then I’d be gone and so would all this, she thought, leaning further over, suddenly feeling giddy, feeling the sky spin about her head, sensing her body flying into the air like a wingless bird. Then she plunged into the waters, as if a thousand hands were pulling her down into the depths with a soundless cry echoing in her dying ears.

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Terry Collett is a poet who has been writing since 1972. He has had two slim volumes of poems published in 1974 and 1978. Since that time he has had poems and short stories printed in anthologies, magazines, and newspapers.

© Terry Collett

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012