The city’s bridges sag over rivers
like hunchbacked men carrying too-heavy loads
for too long.
On the streets, tired,
dim-eyed cars float into mist
as a foreign country’s nighttime
overtakes the city’s sleep.
Orange lights glow in pub windows,
buildings thus resembling cooling embers from a scattered fire.
They’re the secret hearts of this world carved out of fog, those pubs.
Their walls thump with rock, pop, and hip hop.
A tortured, mewling voice echoes faintly through the alleyways.
“Come as you are,” it says,
“and then be gone with you.”
The whole of Aberdeen sleeps on the threshold of yesterday,
dreaming of beds.
In the warm thump of the secret hearts the people laugh.
Nothing said ever lasts.
Every word fades into fog rolling down mountains.
Yet, for all their subtracted voices,
the people stay,
and in staying they honor a history of hard work and tough family.
Theirs is not a surrendering sadness.
No, it’s not that kind.
Triumphant and proud,
It harvests life out of the hollow,
it doesn’t give a damn for lying-down things.
Aberdeen is a mother nursing her baby
after a double shift.
Aberdeen is a grim lumberjack,
hands numb with callouses,
laughing with abandon as his son tickles his stomach.
but never cowed,
Aberdeen is the people
[Previously published on Medium and Northwest Nomad.]