Updated: Apr 17
Curls I cut from my brother’s baby head when I am five and jealous. The light that hits a river bank in Yosemite when I am seven and my family is still a family. The carriage my father pulls behind his bike where my brother and I nap with our helmets slapping together when we hit a bump. The inside of a peach. The sickly stage of a bruise. The beads I admire as they swing from my friends neck. I’d like to own a mala like that, I think, as I climb onto the back of the borrowed motorcycle, burning the inside of my calf on the exhaust. Later another friend will tell me to pee on it to relieve the burn. Later, a monkey will watch me do this, like even he knows—only for jellyfish. After that my lover and me, we howl as we ride a motorcycle over the dirt road along a cliff, feeling that no moment has ever been more adventurous or romantic. We hit a stone and I fly through the air laughing. I bloody my knees. It leaves a scar. Later when I loose him it will hurt worse but leave no mark on my skin.
Yellow. The converse a boy wears when he takes me to his bed. A stack of years since another man has touched me but I slide beneath him like I have done it a hundred times. He takes my clothes from my body and tells me I am beautiful, that I am lovable, that I am a little broken and it is okay to cry, that we don’t have to do this. Later I will wonder how it could feel so good to be cradled by a stranger and still miss a man I… I will wake early and watch him sleep. His pale skin, tattoos—blue with a little age, the blackest eye lashes, his hair free of the pony tail. A beautiful man. Where are you going, he will ask as he watches me dress. Out, is all I will say. My home is in New York but I’m not there yet. California still kissing me with yellow beams of sun and sand and ocean of blue blue blue. Black satin sheets will frame his pale body, nude and erect, watching me pull my dress on, waiting for permission that never comes.
Honey comb. The roses I bought. Pencils I stand in line to sharpen in the portable classroom in the sixth grade. Shorts I bleed through because I am too embarrassed to tell anyone I got my period. Because I don’t have a mother to teach me about these things. Patten leather shoes that are too small. The golden arches I ride my bike toward because I want to run away but don’t know where else to go, so I eat nuggets and ride home, handle bars sticky with sweet and sour sauce. The bird who lives in my mother’s house when I am twelve. The feeling in my belly when she disappears or fails to wake for days on end. The color of her skin, the damage of drug. The white of her eye and the stain on her teeth. The bathing suit I wear as a kid with the one shoulder strap and a pink flamingo on the front. The plastic slide in our backyard that we attach a hose to in summer and go flying down into the grass, staining our asses and burning our thighs. The bounce house I do flips in in my backyard before the party starts, kneeing myself in the face and giving myself my first and only nose bleed. My father will lift my slight frame onto the island in the kitchen where he’s been balling melons and hold a paper towel to my face. One of the most tender moments ever to pass between us.
The wrappers from the chocolates my writing teacher spreads around at the end of class, before he shares his pages with us, and before he kills himself. The Volvo my mother drives when I am six. The vomit I spit into a kitchen bowl as we hit a speed bump as she drives me to the doctor, an undigested pink dot of Tylenol in the center. The flames on the candles at my birthday party when I make my own cake and we eat it with our hands, more people than can fit in my apartment singing and smoking cigarettes in my kitchen and I have never been happier. The skateboard I ride to the grocery store with my boyfriend when I am fifteen. The towel I dry my hands with after the first time I make him come. The lei they put around my head when I am three years old exiting a plane in Hawaii holding my grandmother’s hand and carrying a doll as big as me. The bus that takes me to school when I am six and afraid and I sit in the very back seat with my face pressed to the window watching my mother’s car behind us. My veins injected with dye as I am pushed into an MRI machine. Later I will eat fries and drink milk shakes in a diner. Later I will question my existence in the arms of a medicine man in Indonesia.
Later I will know, that what I know is nothing. Later all I will know are moments floating on a raft in Arizona and the feel of the sun on my face. I’ll know the smell of my mother’s skin. I’ll know moments misplaced and ones stuffed in pockets, feeble attempts to preserve them, only to find them disintegrated in the linen of trousers.