A Month Before 30, Summit of Signal Hill

pc180870Nonfiction by Timothy L. Marsh

A sunny June day in St. John’s means a school trip to Signal Hill so students can admire the scope of their city in marvelous Mother Nature Technicolor.

The bus reads Eastern School District and looks like the half-tractor, half-Panzer kind of bus that children took to school in 1979, which also happens to be the year I was born nearly three decades ago this easy jobless afternoon.

I am eating McDonald’s at the top of the hill where a man named Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal and then shortly thereafter the Nobel Prize.

The children surge from the bus, all squeals and skips in their wonderful youth. They strike the ground and stun the air, flow up and over the parking lot, plunge into Cabot Tower—thirty sets of fuel-injected legs firing on all summer cylinders.

The children are at the height of the low-maintenance life. There is nothing wrong in their lives that can’t be repaired with five minutes of play. They are twenty or thirty years from the disease of nostalgia or any deep long breath born in a car beside a perpetual quarter-tank of gas and two Final Notice statements sitting in the front seat like silent angry wives who’ll never leave you no matter how bad it gets.

There is another man like me up here. He is eating a hamburger in his car and sometimes talking to himself. He is wearing an exceptional slouch in a brand new Sedan adorned with little balls of white sunlight that are too bright to look into.

He is parked next to me and we are both slouch-eating hamburgers and occasionally talking to ourselves while watching thirty schoolchildren horsing around on Cabot Tower which always looks cold no matter how much sun it gets.

There is one boy standing by himself at the east side of the tower.

The boy has seen something in the distance and is very excited as if something unimaginable is sailing his way.

He is leaning over the side of the observation deck where the whole world begins or ends at the fractured edge of Newfoundland. His classmates are on the other side of the tower looking out across St. John’s.

The boy is pointing and calling for them frantically, begging them to look at what he sees.

Timothy L. Marsh currently resides in Bali, Indonesia, where he works as a curriculum developer. In the last year his writing has appeared or been accepted in The Crab Orchard Review, The Newfoundland Quarterly, The New Quarterly, The Evansville Review, Connotation Press, Waccamaw Journal and Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, among others. His awards include a 2010 fellowship and residency at the Vermont Studio Center, and a 2009 Arts Jury Award from the City Council of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

1 comment for “A Month Before 30, Summit of Signal Hill

  1. March 5, 2010 at 11:53 am


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