The Sounds That Inanimate Objects Make In The Night

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A pop in the kitchen when you’re lying in bed. What is the name for space compressing? In this vacuum, the ear travels alone, searching, but there isn’t another sound.

A creak in the hall. Is it the floorboard, moving under a weightless foot? Or the ceiling, sagging a little further towards the inevitable?

If you forgot to close the window the curtain is sure to rustle or beat in a more incessant wind. Narcissism reversed and amplified, until you yourself are still, inanimate, always listening.

Bronx Fire

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My mother mopped my memories in mayhem, drowning our broken lives
in the ashy snow of the Bronx with the dirty walls of Camden.
She picked-up our dusted debris and assembled them into
a crumbling second story, no foundation. Her careful ironing
pressed and straightened to make sure no creases remained:
She would not confirm the fire, radiant, of my dreams.

I remember in my sleep. Heavy magnets stuck to the stove
drove me in, red arrows and yellow stars pointing to the turn and the push
of off-limit buttons. My mother at the door, the one hot flame
made of four leaping high. Outside it warmed up as we watched
the fire call on the neighbors, two stories, five stories, many stories burnt.

My mother liked the look of clean. She wanted a child who’s
socks met at the ankles,with fingernails like the new moon.
A buy-your-own-lego-set kind of boy, the one who’s glimmer
is never a secret. He’d earn a scholarship, a Ph.D, and the dirt and blood
would never stain his knees. I learned to tie my own shoelaces
when I was four years old. You are my sweet boy, my dumpling darling.
Mama didn’t want us to be extinguished by one night, so she submerged
everything in a deep recess, where the fire still burns.

 

Teenage Girl

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I was once the

mysterious creature

known as the teenage girl.

 

After 17 years of living, I knew some things

about the world. It shifted.

Rules changed.

 

Navigating unvoiced

expectations. Friendships

gained a new subtext.

 

Scratching my childhood away

the silver nickel to the lottery ticket.

I learned

 

slowly.

You will

too.