Peter Organisciak CC
Once the kids at my new school
saw I got off the bus on Vine Street
You can’t step off the bus
into a sidewalk of hookers,
dealers, and pimps and still expect
people to see the you
they saw before.
Every day on the bus he turned
his head to smile at me
over the top of green seat backs
until eventually he sat beside me.
He didn’t care about Vine Street
even though he lived in the suburbs.
Sandy-haired and blue-eyed he wore jerseys,
rode his bike on tree-lined streets,
had friends who looked like him.
I leaned against the bus window.
With each bump my head
bounced against the glass.
He slipped his baseball mitt
under my head, a pillow.
He said sleep, I’ll wake you up.
It smelled like dirt, leather, him.
I forget to grind my teeth as I sleep. Instead I dream that I live underwater, in a room wallpapered with green waves–my blood pumps in time with the tides.
At school, the student who threatened to jump, now wears a parachute, his arm tattooed in his mother tongue, a word he swears means night— or maybe anger—or possibly love.
Last month brought cyclones, those who we thought were too young to die are gone. I dream sand pours into my ears, but my mouth remains empty. I have no language left for this.
When I speak to my father, his voice travels through the phone as if through hallways of loss.
I hear the wind buffeting gravestones in a field in Indiana, whistling through valleys in Kentucky.
I imagine him and my mother on the porch of their little house. He sips his coffee as he reads the letter I have yet to write, where I tell him about how time shredded my convictions, about the years that were cyclones upending pieces of my life, rearranging them until I named that rubble holy because I was yanked back to truth there.
Rebecca Watkins, an educator and writer, earned her M.F.A. in Poetry and her M.S. Ed from the City University of New York. Besides being a public-school teacher, she has created and led poetry workshops for all ages. Rebecca has been published in Sin Fronteras, New Feather’s Anthology, Roanoke Review, The Red Mesa Review, Anderbo, and the SNReview among other literary journals. Her first full-length poetry book Sometimes, in These Places was published by Unsolicited Press in 2017. More of her work can be found at www.rebeccawatkinswriter.com.
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