A Hundred and Six Years
The coffee shop steams around me. Someday
my prince will come. Riding a white bike, his helmet
a watermelon, his mouth a sugared promise.
I hate the way the cross-walk man mocks me, ever poised
to block my path. The kaw and circle of children make my
bones calcify, my teeth turn to fossils of ground and grind.
Religion is coffee and words on the page, that one-way street
of addictions. A table away, a woman condemns boys who kiss
other boys. I want to punch her in the stomach, let her feel
the crash of hate. Sugared milk scars my tongue until the
rest of me is square as a mute button. I wrap my hair around my fist,
let the rest of it fall across my face to hide my sister’s eyes. First blue,
then green, then silver-quartered. I want to pay the ferryman
to bring her back to me, unmarred, from the faraway. That river
only flows one way. I would swim upstream, salmon and steel,
to my spawning place if it would not kill the stones. Dams keep time
by the quell of sticks, the fall of trees. It’s a kind of paradise beneath
the swell of wood, that quiet burial of skinks and water bugs. Don’t panic —
it’s easier to breathe than you might thing. Just hold onto that bubble of
time, the one that wants to break the surface. I love you. I love you.
Don’t surface into the smoke of before-you-were-borns. It’s all a fairy tale.
This hand slips, that one holds. The seaweed wraps what ankles it can reach
to anchor the body to its beginnings. There’s no such thing as extra dry anything
in this wounded place. I order none the less, head falling to broken wood,
this final resting place of olive-salt and sweat. Someday he’ll be man enough.
But I’ll be gone by then, mouth weaving saliva tales on someone else’s skin,
tracing tear tracks like snail tongues. Break bread at the memory table
before the flour explodes like a million stars, the constellations wiped out
by two kneading hands, the sky black as bursting. Call me by name, my real one,
as we refold into ourselves, pummel backward into the raw pieces by which we began.
NOTE: To do this prompt, I borrowed the following list of questions which is a meme that’s been going around forever. I used the answers as they came to me, in order (the title is the first answer) and let them snake me wherever they seemed to want to go. It’s quite a mishmash of nonsense, but it was fun!
1. How old do you look?
2. Where do you live?
3. Are you waiting for something?
4. What’s one pet peeve of yours that is not common?
5. Do you want/have kids?
6. Have you ever thought about converting your religion?
7. Last shocking news you heard?
8. What was the last thing you drank?
9. Who do you most look like in your family?
10. If you could have something right now, anything, what would it be?
11. Where does most of your family live?
12. Where did you grow up?
13. Where do you want to go on vacation?
14. Have you ever had a panic attack?
15. What can’t you wait for?
16. When’s the last time you told someone you loved him or her and meant it?
17. Have your parents ever smoked pot?
18. Want someone back in your life?
19. What do you order at the bar?
20. When was the last time you cried really, really hard?
21. Ever licked someone’s cheek?
22. What is your favorite thing to eat with peanut butter?
23. Where were you on July 4th, 2008?
24. What are your nicknames?
25. If you could go back in time, how far back would you go?