I’m back in the school auditorium with its chipping ceiling and
hard backed seats. There is a new clock on the wall with hands
made of a young girl’s finger bones. Tonight’s entertainer stands
in the front of the room and the music begins. It is tinny and
discordant like a forgotten ballad, perhaps about a man who
cannot lie, or maybe it’s like the music out of speakers in Chernobyl.
I always wondered about those people who had the job of picking
up pieces that had been held or used by the once loved, hated,
respected, doomed who had once been walking in that same spot.
And I wondered even more about those men who had disappeared
in flashes of ecstatic light. Did their shadows end up weighing
anything more than a feather? On stage the dance begins: a whirl of
misused colors, a flash of quickly bruising flesh, and then he
is bowing to us. The bow is sarcastic and he is waiting for the
the applause that he knows we must provide. My hands are clapping
until I’m leaving bloody prints on the blouse of my best friend as
I try to hold her close and imagine that I can hear the flutter
of breath still coming from her lips. But, it sounds nothing like
The closet opened up as I was cleaning inside it and it lead into
a room that I don’t remember where the seas spread out around me
and I’m still holding a pair of shoes that can never be worn again.
The arch of his foot was beautiful and I’m not an artist but I could
still tell. Then there was the glass and I remember thinking that
blood shouldn’t be like that. I thought of it filling in the shape of his
toes where he had walked through the sand and I fall to my knees
and try to kiss them but they are only just shapes; some meaningless
memory of weight. And I’m just in a cramped closet holding a
pair of shoes that will never be worn again.
It was in the café where I had first met him. We had once drunk
crazy things together. He sipped Twisted Raspberry Lemonades
and I drank an Upside Down Pineapple Extreme. I remember
how lovely the whipped cream felt as it slid up the glass and onto
my fingers. It was the newspaper in my hands and the sudden
realization that I had lost him. I went to find him at the basement
of my dead best friend’s house. I don’t know why I thought that
he would be there; except that I remembered playing in there as
a child and crouching down in the corner and listening to my friend
as she counted back from twenty and when she found me she
laughed and it sounded just exactly like spring rain falling on the
plants in my mother’s garden. Of course, my friend hasn’t been
here for years and the basement is icy dark and cold. My breath
curls out of my mouth like smoke and I can imagine shapes there as
if I were watching clouds. And there are two people already down here.
They were waiting for me, I think. I recognize one of them as the
lover of my sister who I had never met. She was the one who
drowned when the lake broke out of its manmade cage and ripped
a strange new river across our hometown and— Oh. God. She’s
looking up at me, empty-eyed gorgeous, and with her mouth all
shut up and bleeding down her front and the faceless man on the
ground is swirling his fingers in the wasted red. He is painting
a mural of a woman with no features and whose hands are made
out of sticks. I run out; my feet are pounding a rhythm of escape.
Somehow I reach the city; the same one where the glass once
fell and littered the streets with tiny shards of other people’s
fears. The sun is at the peak of its impossible height and the light
breaks my thirsty lips with the hungry force of a kiss between
the recently re-found. In front of me a little girl in white splashes
in a mud puddle and gets red splotches and patterns all up and down
her dress. She looks like a winter battlefield. And now I can’t go
anymore. The press of distance, of ink on paper, of a face I won’t
see, of a shoe that won’t feel weight in it again, is all too heavy.
So I lie down in the street and caress the concrete with my hands
and I can taste what it will taste like when they catch me:
copper, salt, sharp, and cold. So, I wake up the empty house with
my screams and it feels like it almost could be ecstasy. But
I know that’s not true.
*This is a recently recovered prose poem I wrote in one of my first creative writing courses! I actually still like quite a bit of it.