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Terry Adams

Spring Theory

I was not surprised to find a steel spring lying alone on a sidewalk, on Spring Street, in Redwood City. I am aware that the population of lost springs in the city is growing. I am not talking about the spring in my step, nor the virgin Spring. I have handled many springs in my life, and yet I know it takes special training to relate to springs in a meaningful manner.  


This one will never return to its job. If I took it home it would rot in a drawer jumbled in with some old nails and screws. I bet it has “boinged” away from several rescue attempts already. Its original dereliction from the work world probably caused frantic searching, cursing, and anger. It may have drawn blood on someone’s finger when it first snapped out of where it was confined. Just before it let go it uttered unnerving little squeaks that no one paid attention to.  

I warned you, it said. The escape may have taken place this morning or two years ago. Springs have a way of keeping their distance, especially in winter. This one pushed itself away from my extended finger just now; it is rolling, it has leapt over a speck of gravel, it is bouncing and vibrating. It has wobbled and rolled just out of reach under a Toyota. If it were a cat it would be hissing. 


In the back rooms of small hardware stores there are bins full of springs that are never used, many just like this one. They are kept segregated from birth, by size, and shape. They wait sometimes for decades for a chance to hold one thing away from another thing at some useful distance. When they are put to work, they are forced to absorb all that animosity, that subtle flexing, which keeps machines going. 


Unlike me it has a Maker, but just like me, it has escaped. This one may have already performed more work in its life than I have in mine. I would love to kick at it, pursue it down the block, with drivers honking at me, and pedestrians staring.  

Terry Adams has poems in Poetry (Chicago), Ironwood, The Sun, Witness, College English, Bellowing Ark, The Sand Hill Review, and elsewhere. His first collection, Adam’s Ribs, came out from Off the Grid Press in 2008. He lives in Ken Kesey’s infamous 1960’s cabin in La Honda, California.

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