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Bernie This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , San Diego, CA
Glare from the orange, afternoon sun, piercing, reflects
Off the ocean water and flashes onto Bernie’s dirty windshield.
He plods unrelentingly down I-5, but can’t escape the light
And feebly turns his old, grey head away. Still, he hastily tries
To keep his eyes on the road. As he crawls down the California coast,
The sun sets over the freeway, over the water, and is gone.

Bernie glances right, but the seat’s regular occupant is gone.
He knew she would be if he looked. Still, he doesn’t reflect
On everything that’s happened in his life on the coast-
He can see it secondhand now, easily, through his windshield.
To him, it doesn’t matter anymore, so he doesn’t try
To feel bad about it. In his mind, he’s reached the light.

And he’ll take this new thought under consideration lightly
Once he’s reached his new home, away from it all. His old life gone,
He plans to start anew. Once arrived, he won’t waste time trying
To understand how he found his way back to a simple reflection
Of what his life was long ago. The view out this windshield
Is nothing to him, only a detached, pleasant view of the coast.

Now Bernie lives in sunny San Diego, and out his window is a coastal
View, bright and beautiful. Like a poster on his wall, the light
From the ever-blue beach sky makes him happy. And the glass is a windshield
That protects him from dark reality. But Bernie loves this life. He’s even gone
Out with new girls, some older-looking than even his own reflection.
No worries, no old bothers. He doesn’t care anymore, and won’t try.

But the memories still linger. Lurking in the past, they try
To force their way back into his mind. Little things like old coasters,
A wedding gift with etched initials. Or the way his eyes reflect
His age now, sunken deep and dark. But even when her ghost taps lightly
On his shoulder, he won’t notice. Until he is taken, until he’s gone
Up with her, Bernie won’t see- not through that ever-present windshield.

And when he’s gone, he won’t be remembered. His California coast
That he watched through the windshield that afternoon will not try
To forget him, but it will. So lightly, he will pace through the clouds, and reflect.





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