On Thanksgiving, everyone meets at the pubs in our hometown. It’s loud, and people are repeating conversations about work, or who has a baby now. The neighbors’ babies are 21 now, here for the first time, sipping on a pint and texting. But now, it’s April, and you can walk down Main St. in anonymity. It’s chilly, and by the pier a man does magic, pulling chain necklaces out his nose. On the grass, there are so many benches with their backs to the ocean with plaques in memoriam like a yearbook of all our friends who never grew up.
The other night, I listened to music at a place wedged between empty storefronts with bars on the windows on a wide-open street with an occasional El Salvadorian market, a gas station, and cars always guzzling by. Inside the theater, a woman from Nashville played an old electric guitar and sang with that emotion where her head is cocked back and her mouth is a big black hole. The sound was everywhere. It had been so long since feeling art like this, and all I could hear was someone from an old poetry workshop describing my beer as amber nectar.
A Sunday At the Mall in 1998
On the escalator to the food court, glancing at your hungry Tamagotchi pet, you think about which poem to read in front of your sixth grade classmates and that visiting poet who is always sweating. You are scared to read the one where the hands on the clock spiral from the classroom like fighter planes, weaving into an operating room where your mother’s breast is exposed, drawn up with black marker like a runway or an instruction manual of where to cut and leave enough to kill. You find her in line at TCBY and show her your new shoes.