For months I held your picture between my two left fingers. I kept
returning to the crash site asking the workers there if they’d found
anything else that looked like you. They put me on television and I
said I’d always remember, the screech of the wheel wells on the
pavement, the screaming the children made, so contained yet so
decidedly out of control. I told them how you’d had held my hand for
just a moment, and then, maybe thinking better, you’d carefully let it
go. Afterwards your friends came around for a while and rang my
buzzer. When I didn’t answer, they left your things in a pile near the
planters. When it happened to someone else, the reporters showed
back up to ask me my opinion. I held up my fingers and they winced
and tried to throw it back to the newsroom. “No,” I’d say, trying to
balance the microphone, “This is wrong. This is all wrong.” I would
Someone in the next town over has a diagram of the incident. I saw it when they were refilling their travel mugs at the gas station next door. For the most part, they kept it covered with their hands like they were shading a candle, but I heard them read from the key: red is for the weekends, green is a man with a wife and two children, blue is something the cops couldn’t read, white just means there is nothing at all. Then one of them opened a packet of sugar. He shook it loose like a bedsheet while the other one tried to decipher the codes. “It’s hard to tell,” I heard him whisper, and his friend told him maybe he should back up and hold it into the light. After they stirred in their cream, I went home and played back the tapes of the interrogation. “I don’t know nothing,” you kept saying. “I don’t know nothing. Nothing at all.”
The boy I know is beginning to leak around his important seams. He
forgets what time it is, and he does not go back out looking for the
things he left behind. He says he knows how to use a wrench, but
mostly it doesn’t look like it. He puts documents into his pockets for
safekeeping, and soon they will be gone. His mother will tell you he
was born six weeks early, and someone who thought better decided
they should keep him alive. It was hard at first, but everyone gathered
round the casserole, dug in their heels. The newspaper has photos in
which he is bent over a broken headboard looking for a second shoe
nobody thinks is there, his father in the other room drinking and
calling out answers to a crossword puzzle someone else has already
begun. On the TV there’s a show playing about quasars, about how
every year the moon spirals farther and farther away from the earth.
This makes sense, I think, that soon the moon will be gone, that the
stars will begin to work much harder. Soon the smaller things will be
responsible for everything else to come.
The Foresight Machine
After you left, I went to visit the grave of the boy who came before you. It was not far from where I thought you lived, and it occurred to me that maybe I should swing by and see what was going on. I had never been there before as I had never been invited, but I didn’t think it would be a problem finding the place because my automobile came equipped with a machine dedicated to tasks like this. When I arrived, though, you did not seem excited to see me. You asked me what I was thinking, and I reminded you that my foresight machine was still broken though this was a lie. My foresight machine had been fully operational for weeks, so operational that I knew exactly what would happen, how decades in the future our children were hiding in a closet at the sound of your rising voice. I knew one day it would be a long walk from our neatly-decorated home to the bus station, but this was only August. I didn’t think I’d mind.
When I first met you, you were running away from a burning office
park. The flames had singed your hair, and your hands smelled of
kerosene. I kept asking if you were hurt, and you kept insisting you
were fine. We heard the sirens coming from miles away. It was
winter—which made the office park a quick, dry, uncontainable blaze.
We drove until disappeared from the mirrors. You held my hand and
told me all of your favorite bands. Lately though, it’s been hard to find
that feeling. Life hasn’t been easy since the bomb we thought we
hadn’t made exploded. It’s mostly just been a lot of waiting around for
someone to bring me the things I need. Sometimes I wake up in the
middle of the night thinking about you, and I have to draw your face
on a napkin to get other people to tell me what it means. It’s not the
easiest part of their day, but they do it—explaining we all were whole
once, but sometimes the little parts get free.
More poetry at Used Furniture.
Absolutely lovely, particularly Quasar — the images just settled especially nicely for me. I also find it interesting that this is classified as poetry (no argument from me, just interest) when many might classify it, say, as flash fiction, or prose. They evoked an immediate empathy in me and I didn’t want to scroll past them (my initial reaction in this media-bite world!)