Poor Kid’s Obituary
I didn’t really know him but knew him too well, because I too knew hurt. He lived far off Lornfield road in a trailer stained orange with rust. His were the sinewy limbs of the perpetually ground down, the worked since they could walk. Emaciated face of hunger. The strength of three kids our age, body and mind, cloaked in a shabby coat of unbreachable armor. He could outnumber the pushups and pullups of the baddest motherfucker in the whole school, and did, as if he didn’t have enough to endure. Or so I remember, now, how life’s cruel choirs glanced off his unbathed skin, his Salvation Army sweatpants, pushed past gashed shinbones to knees toughened and flattened by prayer, his treadless shoes those goofy Velcro numbers favored by old men nearing their own ends. But what we remember can get so slippery, like the oil-slick cement where he ultimately landed and burst and bled out. Gave his life over to blue. The way the night sometimes weeps and rain suicides itself into the street. Molecules blown apart. Seeps into the drains and the pores of the earth. Becomes vapor. Returns to the air, to our lungs, our blood. Yes, they come back again and again, to invade our cells. Always inside us. After all, we too are the grease in the gears, for years have known hunger and humiliation, have heard the call and felt the pull, the push to sever. Because they are us, those whom we never really knew but whose ghosts we do. How they mirror the smallest light inside us, always on the cusp of winking out, and so seldom enough to reignite what’s kept us going this far. The singular ember, caged in our caved and aching chests, the one that, time and again, starts to darken and go cold.
William R. Soldan is a writer from Youngstown, Ohio. He is the author of the story collections In Just the Right Light and Lost in the Furrows, as well as the forthcoming poetry collection So Fast, So Close and two more books of fiction. His work has appeared widely in print and online publications, some of which can be found at williamrsoldan.com if you'd like to read more. He can also be found on Twitter @RustWriter1 if you'd like to connect.
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