A Small Bridge

by Kelly Fordon

My father wouldn’t come to my graduation. It had to do with sleeping late and missing Sunday mass. The reason incidental, the decision snap. I ran from the ceremony, down a long, sloping hill past a grade school where I paused and watched children taking turns on the swing and playing Red Rover. I remembered Dodgeball was my favorite game. One time I forced a girl to pull down her underpants. At the end of the road, there was a small bridge. The creek was low enough to jump across, but the bridge made it feel like a portal into a better, more benevolent land. I lay back on a grassy knoll and lit a cigarette. My father was already headed up I-70. My classmates were tossing their caps in the air. I could hear the school children chanting. My father loved me, he loved the Lord, he wanted me to see the light. I saw the light playing across the water. I saw the little girl’s face when I yanked down her pants. Up at the school a child cried out. After awhile, there was nothing left to do but return to my dorm room and pack. I drove all the way across the country that summer. And then I drove back.

Kelly Fordon’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review (KRO), Rattle, Flashquake, The Windsor Review and various other journals. Her poetry chapbook, On the Street Where We Live, won the 2011 Standing Rock Chapbook Contest and was published in February. Her new poetry chapbook, Tell Me When It Starts to Hurt, will be published by Kattywompus Press in 2013.

In your cover letter, you wrote, “For me, compression means trying to say everything you want to say as succinctly as possible, without sounding trite.” What are some ways you’ve found to accomplish these things? Do you have any specific examples of your process from “A Small Bridge”?

    One of the hardest things for me to do is write about pain. Who wants to hear some self-involved person whining? For this piece, I tried to ground the amorphous feeling of betrayal in a time and space and let it speak for itself.
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