In his hand he held it

Cold like the air around him

Heavy but no heavier than his heart,

Metal and the color of

The sky just before the stars open their eyes

And sunlight tiptoes into

The tops of trees to sleep

With changing leaves.



He clicked it closed

Turned the key again

To watch it open

Like the door of an old friend

Who he could not wait to see—

The silver glistened against

The subway lights

As he held their padlock a little too tight.



All across the city he wondered if she

Would be there to meet him

As she said she would be—

But she said it once before

And he was alone

To hold his own hand

Hardened like stone

And breath that could not breathe.



That was before. Perhaps not today.



It was the plan

For each to bring

The keys to the weight he carried

To toss them to the sea

Mirroring pitches made all along

By lovers whose promises

Were promised and




He found the place

Like a scout on a trail

Where their solidarity of heart

Would be stayed in the midst

Of a garden of colors and

Words etched with pride

The dates of a thousand choices

The names of two thousand tales.



A bridge high above

A sleepy canal

Where glitter and shadows

Fold into themselves

With wrought iron twisting

From railing to floor

This is the place he had chosen

To seal relation with she he adored.



He stepped off the train

And into the night

Passing by strangers

Pale in moonlight

Walked to the place—

The bridge and canal—

Where he waited to see her

With sighful exhales.



He clicked the padlock

Then twisted his key—

Open and closed—

A ritual he relied on

Until her face he could see

It kept her close

Inside his hands

Mirrored the place she held in his soul.



The evening cool

Turned to midnight cold

He fluffed up his scarf

Looked left and then right

No one in sight but a lonely dog

Sniffing the edges of a lowering fog,

Who looked with sad eyes

Then curled up in a doorway to sleep.



The clock in the tower

Struck only once

Four hours passed

The time they had set

The anniversary

Of the first time they met

Now come and gone—

The lonely dog stirred and then yawned.

The man remembered a time

When first they decided

To secure the padlock

Hours beyond their bodies uniting

It was a gesture of “yes”

A wish of “again”

And he realized now

They should have done it then.



The time had passed—

Too much time—

From the first to the last

So she changed her mind

She left him behind

Which never could have been

If the cold metal was clicked,

Their keys making love to the sea.



He sat on the edge

Looked into the glitter,

Which looked more like litter

With no light shining down from his eyes—

He remembered the sunshine

Climbed to the other side

Whispered her name one time, then

He dove into the water

With the padlock at his side.



The lonely dog sighed and walked into the night.

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo credit: this poem was inspired by German artist Ruprecht von Kaufmann‘s piece, Under Water, 2004.  http://rvonkaufmann.com/home/ )