Dedicated to my mom, who would make up stories for me when I asked her to even though she thinks in math.
Once upon a time, there was an elephant.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Oh geez, another "once upon a time.” What happened to creativity? And who writes a story about an elephant? Well now, just hear me out.
The Holland Tulip Faire comes around every year on the first Wednesday of March when the flowers in Centennial Park have broken through their bulbs. In the mid-afternoon light the petals gently unravel from their tight spirals to gaze up towards the sun in thoughtful reverence. Row by row in rising wooden boxes they sit, reaching towards the sky.
The metal gates of Centennial Park stay open until six in the evening when the sun dips beneath the horizon and the gates promptly shut. Shut behind metal bars, the flowers stand in union bravely on their stalks, taking on the shades of blue in the sky, the softness of the clouds, quivering in the breeze. From behind the bars the individual flowers blend together in the evening shade, coalescing into a single block of color, like the handsewn patch on a child’s quilt. And when light fades from the sky, the flowers continue to stand, and when day breaks they will display their vibrant petals with pride, with dignity at having maintained their silent vigil through the dark.
You coming for the food? you ask. I said yes, and you give a short, quick nod. We’re standing on the sidewalk, remember? Boys and girls walking between us, shuffling their feet, avoiding us, coming in between our locked eyes. Shall we go? This time it’s me that nods, though I do it slowly, almost hesitantly, but inside I’m confident. Shall we then? Nudging me with your eyebrows and a slight head tilt. I smiled, gently, subtly — we go. We go, talking from time to time, but mostly we keep our heads straight in front of us, looking at the road, looking at the trees around us, and the cars that pass, but never the pale blue sky, never the sun. The wind is cold and strong — I could barely feel it, but you rub your arms like they’re cold, cold skin and cold ears. I pretended not to notice. The air now, in springtime, smells like flowers and pollen, sweet and fresh, if not a bit damp, and a cause for allergies. But back then, in autumn, there was a particular dryness to it all, so my hands felt like paper, wrinkled like an old man’s, and I was constantly conscious of it — I kept on rubbing the tips of my fingers, trying to get that feeling out.
You ask about something — something about my sister, perhaps, or something about me, my family — something personal. Did I laugh? If I did, it was only because I was shy, or diffident, which happens only rarely, but I looked away and thought for a second. I slowed down my pace, or maybe it just seemed that way, to think. You’re looking at me in anticipation, and I glanced back, and turned away immediately, smiled again. I began a sentence, and your eyes light up a little bit, but the words choked in my throat, in my head — this odd collection of thoughts, crammed up somewhere in me, stray strings that stay afloat, unanchored by words. I said something eventually, once we got to an intersection, softly, as a car whizzed by so you can’t quite hear what I said — what? you say, with a tinge of force. I kind of repeated myself, but changed some of the words to make it less embarrassing ... for both of us.
Tick, tick, tick shift. Tick, tick, tick shift.
Fingers are raw but they continue the shift.
Tick, tick, tick tock. Tick, tick, tick tock.
Only an hour remains as they glance at the clock.
Smoke licks the floor as it seeps through the beams,
Oblivion. Nothing. The room erupts into screams
Stomp, stomp, stomp, run. Stomp, stomp stomp, run.
Every man for themselves, when they used to be one.
Stomp, stomp, stomp walk. Stomp, stomp, stomp walk.
Only a year ago when they decided to talk.
White picket signs; they stood up to protest.
“LADIES, TAILORS, STRIKERS!” on linens strapped to their chest.
Smack, smack, smack dead. Smack, smack, smack dead.
Shooting stars ascend from the windows and land on their head.
Smack, smack, smack pound. Smack, smack, smack pound.
Silhouettes in the window engulfed by the flame, never to be found.
The things they protested rush into minds like a flood.
The words of the dead are underlined in their blood.
Is it not every day that we sing and live our lives, get through our tasks and say our goodbyes?
Yet there is something haunting about our past that is forgotten,
The people who roamed our streets and worked our lands till autumn.
In the midst of our business, we have refused to acknowledge our people.
This isn’t the steeple, it’s a merely a path to redemption; come with me.
Who are the dark-skinned men and women who cloud our memories?
Who reproduced to meet our dire necessities?
Who pushed through, toiled, lived, worked, and dreamed despite our harsh qualities?
I have told you of a tale, though it has a touch of darkness.
Never forget those people; turn back and face our history, at last.
Cherish them as the great heroes that have surpassed our inequalities.
Our social structures, capitalist mindset, and weak moralities.
They are the unsung ancestors of our past; they have set us on another path.
Don’t stray from this and respect what you’ve learned.
Monday, August 18, 2014
“Get out a pencil and a piece of paper. You’re going to write about your name for two minutes,” my English teacher said on the first day of school.
I stared blankly at the three-holed paper. I couldn’t think of where to begin. That’s such a broad question. Do I write about my name and where it originated? How my parents picked it?
And then I started wondering. How did it sound when she said my name to me?
Ay, what’s up. I’m a senior and I’m fatally ill with senioritis. So try not to expect too much.
Yesterday you messaged me through Facebook, and you said I was handsome. Which is pretty weird, but kudos to you for having it in you to do that, I guess.
To stop and admire the moon,
To take your time to perceive its silver rays
That it displays at noon,
That is to truly praise
Not to take a second to consider fallen leaves
Is truly a sin without bail,
Not to look at these airy thieves
Is a mere regret that must land you in jail
Take your time to appreciate water drops,
Take your time to admire their essence,
Accustom yourself to these unique “stops,”
Accustom yourself to surpass this adolescence
For when time comes it will all become grand,
Yet, these ambiguities cannot be further on revived
For now we need to treat the subject at hand
Upon this, we will ultimately have thrived
For he would not really live, if he only survives,
Just now it’s time for something greater in our lives
Bittersweet and kind
When was it that we met?
Desperate and silenced
I remember nothing.
Desperate measures did not last;
Nor did the silent ending.
Lonely friends living there --
Lonely rocks and
Spraypainted on the mirror.
Rusty rails and wooden conjoinment
Why must I remember?
Running and a belt
I do not want to remember.
Tall emotions never last
But those of that Monday evening stay.
That wasn't me
To lose the raindrops,
To loosen the ties,
To lose the mirror of my life.
I did not understand;
Could not find acceptance
Nor my inner soul
That composed me as whole.
What was whole?
I cannot remember.
It was a second tearing
The rusting of the first
A second railing
At the height
Contorted and sober?
Or resoundingly drugged?
Neither gives hope.
Glass bits, empty rails
Rust is all that is left.
Easy there --
Surprises after surprises
Pressing onto my fingertips
Running to find a place to rest
Null and void
Gone are they now
Secrets that I found.
But it wasn't loneliness I found
After bearing the loss;
It was the remembrance
Of a lonely soul
He was a mirror
Broken on the railroad
The railroad --
I wish not to remember.