of school and walked with me to the graveside on

a gray September day cut by winter’s promise in the wind.

My father kept his arm around my shoulders, while I cried so hard I turned myself inside out, so grateful IT was gone and it was over.

I did not know

that the haunting

had just begun.

clocks melting on the floor

I didn’t think about pregnancy for weeks, when it finally hit me I puked and cried, afraid that I was puking

cuz there was a baby

but the next day I bled a stormy river, so grateful didn’t think about STIs didn’t know what they were to be honest

after I was raped

I could hardly think at all because feelings hid in the closet, under the bed, shadow-cloaked and hungry, dark mountains and oceans of noise threatened to spill over if I opened my mouth, I was afraid

I’d never stop screaming

pain management

My parents drank fury and gin when we lived in places quick-rented, half-furnished with couches and beds that smelled of strangers, the floors scrubbed with regret.

A wolf, when wounded, retreats to a dark place, burns out the injury with fever, lies still so the bones can knit back together, or dies alone.

But we were not wolves.

We moved

and moved again, being not-wolves, with our legs snapped in the metal trap jaws, livers pecked each night by eagles,

my parents broke

themselves on the wheels of time and appearances, drunk

on gin and fury, they ossified.

Of course I got high.



ate molasses cookies baked—ha, I said “baked”— by my grandmother

drank music: Boston Bob Seger Black Sabbath Blue ?yster Cult Supertramp Doobie Brothers Allman Brothers Bill Withers Eagles Stevie Wonder Steely Dan Lynyrd Skynyrd Aerosmith

Temptations Santana Genesis Led Zeppelin Fleetwood Mac

landsliding through my bones sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow I drew pictures

x-ed them, rejected them with a black magic marker, threw them in the garbage weed buzz dulled thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou

the pain, verdigris skeleton key turned in my brain’s rusty lock I understood

I could fucking see the connections ’tween everything and everybody, the four— no, the five-dimensional chessboard we danced on

I scribbled notes in crayon messages in bottles cast into the sea of me

then lost in the deep I got high to escape sat in sunshine, eyes closed wanted to peel back my lids, but I knew a girl who did that, dead-crazy high on smack (not weed)

she had pale eyes to begin with, almost as white as her hair, so when she, dead-crazy high, opened her eyes for a staring contest with the sun the sun won

and she couldn’t see too good after that but she got sober,

for sure

I kept my eyes closed after smoking, usually fell asleep, bored and stuck

in hardening concrete up to my chin

ninth grade: my year of living stupidly

1. I forgot to go to class a lot, even for subjects like French and social studies that I enjoyed. When I remembered to go, it was hard to stay awake cuz I wasn’t sleeping good at night. At first I’d hide in the fantasy section of the library when I forgot to go to class. Then I met some kids who lived a few blocks from school and they were happy to share high afternoons listening to music with me, all of us pretending we weren’t doomed.

2. Concrete burns are lethal. Sneaky, too. Stick your hands or feet into wet concrete and it feels like a milkshake. You’d never guess you were going to need an amputation.

3. I didn’t have real friends because a friend is someone you trust and trust never came easy after that boy raped me. But I had people to get high with, people to share sandwiches with. Sometimes I had people to walk with in the halls. Being mocked doesn’t hurt as much when someone walks next to you. I was grateful for my almost-friends.

4. It’s all about the pH levels. Vinegar is an acid, pH 2.4; skin is acid, too, pH 5.5. Wet concrete is wicked alkaline, pH 12.0; that’s caustic enough to eat you alive.

5. They called us dirtbags: the clan of X-kids who smelled of cigarettes and weed and farm work and clothes worn without washing because the laundromat was expensive and the priority was staying warm. We weren’t the only ones whose parents were drunk or violent or absent . . . but we were the poor kids dealing with that shit. Our school was organized by income brackets, with the kids who skied in Colorado over winter break at the top and the dirtbags at the bottom.

6. It was probably more complicated than that, but that’s what it felt like sitting in the shadows at the base of the social mountain.

7. The concrete keeps burning even after you wash it off your skin. The gift that keeps on giving, the death that keeps on deathing.

8. Once I sat in the backseat of a Chevy with four other people; there were three more up front, plus the driver, and we were profoundly wasted and we drove around the rim of an old quarry and something happened cuz suddenly the driver took us straight back to his house and didn’t say anything for the rest of the night. Next day I went back there and found our tracks; we’d come inches from plunging to the bottom. I didn’t hang out with those guys after that.

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