Something to Youth

A dream drive down Sunset,
on one of the last days of our old summers.
Nothing ever looked black to me then.
Things looked a progressively darker shade of green.
The way flashlights showed only white faces,
the pale skin exposed bright like a Polaroid
with the path of clear raindrops in the green among us,
the world revealing another new card trick,
or pointing out a sick shadow
on the outskirts of our bodies.
This is what I remember.

Daniel’s brother packed up his stuff
when we were seventeen,
and he took his dog
and he left and he didn’t say goodbye.
So, the house was empty except for Daniel.
And since Daniel
hadn’t changed the way his parents had left the house –

it had became no ones.
It was a house where we were more comfortable standing outside.
Hoods drawn, standing in wagon circles,
leaning against trees, ducking under awnings.
Wafts of smoke drifting around like the dumb jokes and sickle cells.
It’s because those days were defined
by either the presence of summer or rain.
I remember getting out of cars and walking inside,
better then the drives there or what we did inside.
I remember standing outside and smoking,
the gestation,
the talking about nothing,
I remember these moments
because there was ample space in my head.
I never remember the rush from the sirens,
but I remember the first lights on my eyes.
I never remember the exact words, or even two of them
but I always remember answering the phone.
I never remember the world
when the adrenaline is really pumping in this engine.
I lose myself into myself.
I remember the time in between.
The space with room.
When we had time to breathe.

Zoe led me away from a party near the highway,
where you could hear the passing cars as loud as the voices.
We walked down a gravel hill, kicking it in the dark,
dumb and mute like nervous children.
And she pointed to a barn.
We found ourselves at the top
nestled beside each other,
our limbs cross-sectioned to the beams beside the ceiling,
looking through a perch window at the pale moon
matching our skin.
We hardly said anything.
That summer, I remember dragging my tongue across skin
like I was licking Epsom salt from a counter.
I remember the bell behind the basketball court at Bill’s house
that rang when the sun settled behind the thick treeline,
announcing the time to no one.
Home wasn’t somewhere I knew how to go alone.
So, I remember sleeping in master bedrooms at strangers houses
and laughing at something I didn’t understand.
I remember knowing that some things that didn’t matter,
but I wish I understood them before I knew that.
I remember sleeping on beaches, in backyards,
crumpled into our old cars,
pulled into the loop of Daniel
of stubs, shrugs and what-did-we-say’s.
Too separated together to understand our own patterns.
So many moments, were the ones I chose to forget
or that I buried somewhere like a dog would with a bone
A gift to myself I’ll probably never recover
because I was a dog then,
loyal, hungry and eager to please.

Another long drive down Tolo, or Wyatt,
and I remember the sun, and the real estate signs,
days we would break bread and feed them to pigeons
and Matthew would call the birds retards
and we’d all laugh
and play catch in the ball fields
that we played in as children
and the dogs wandered along the fence line
like prison guards while we sipped beer
and our days were like eternal transfers
to beaches, parks and secret spots
undeveloped neighborhoods, abandoned houses
and long driveways.
A shack near the shore
that we joked was a snipers nest,
and the cold drinks passing empty
like the cold waves of the sound
because we never did more then jump in and then climb right back out.
The middle days of summer.
The lump in my throat.
Slivers or flashcards of loving quiet moments
that felt innocent then because they felt like nothing,
but time brought edges,
these pop-eye’d brush and tumbles,
the places I can’t even look at anymore
all this among the deep ease
I know only with forest, water and trees.
I’m ready to plunge forward
like the way we sank our hands
into the wet clay of open ground in April,
my sister and I climbing the endless hill behind our house
when every house still seemed endless, still seemed safe;
this world of white wire, brown wood and blue water
that conjured home.
But that place is an empty train yard.
That place isn’t there anymore.
It’s been scraped, flipped, sold and stacked,
like ghosts building a house of cards,
fragile in it’s new state.
Something left to it’s own room.

It’s a part of the same dream I’ve been having.
Where water rises when asked
and tires go flat and crawl into the car.
I am stuck under bridges.
Trapped in broken elevators.
Must is a smell and a feeling.
And this, paired with the sense that none of it was real,
is what compels me to leave.
That it is all just as temporal as a wasps nest.

One summer, Daniel’s brother came home.
And without a word he went to work.
He took all of his parents furniture and sold it.
He stripped the carpets and laid down paneled wood.
He took down the chandelier, a family heirloom
and gave it to the neighbor.
On a Thursday, he cut the thenar space in his right hand
with his Dad’s rusted old dry-wall saw
cutting slats for the master bedroom.
I drove him to the hospital,
and we sat in the waiting room
and he clutched his wrapped hand,
the old bath towel going brown from the red,
sitting together, saying nothing, waiting
and then the nurse called him back.

I’m drawn into what my life used to mean
and what I didn’t do with it.
The way Daniel didn’t change a thing in his parent’s house
as if there were something important that had been arranged,
and we hadn’t caught onto it.
That there was something that he could define
and then shutter away; that he could take care of it.
Like there was a newfound weight
to slip from the loop.

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