It was like camp But I spent the first night On a thin plastic mattress with ****** sheets freezing Instead of encircling a campfire Singing cowboy songs of the West And little dogs
My first activity was not making a bow and arrow or a target but instead I was sitting after breakfast on a concrete bench in the Sun Trying to fill myself with that allusive happiness. That was my plan.
On the next occasion in the open I did not get a compass nor a map but I sat with a table of girls And spoke up without being asked They started to show off their pale pinkish arms I was at the cutters’ table Smoker’s edition Layers upon layers of Rippling Scar tissue at the elbows in particular It is thick. Bleeding and healing To be sliced open again For crusting over. They were cheerful Despite hallucinations and panic attacks, Lost children or tomorrow Scuttling along a murky seabed that did not want them but Here’s a cigarette
I did not make a sundial or find my canoe Or make shoes out of leaves but let the morning sun stick around while the smoke issuing from their chatty mouths pinched my nose I would take their smoking breaks with them. I claimed two for myself and once lit, slyly handed them over As I listened to the chatter and laughed I feel a faint yellow heat From up over there.
We didn’t at first hover around each other Talking about nothing like high school Girls with braces and dorky pajamas Or bend over from the top bunk to say one more thing before lights out At first I never added more than a informed observation about lipgloss or a roll over the eyes over the next dumbbell talking about nothing that existed But I was tolerated And as their numbers diminished only to be refreshed again my comfort grew I made “friends” We laughed and co-conspired Over pills, soda and what’s that on your tray?
There were movies on the tv But no westerns With horses trekking through the tall grasses Nor Smoke arising in the distance Imitating a life that we were imitating as well Yes we were! Just a slightly different tale about Endless treks and wandering
On the weekends The rules relaxed and the counselors, Had there been any, Would have been preoccupied with private intrigues and how to make pineapple cocktails And we, left to our own devises, Would saunter in and around each other Braiding hair and reading magazines.
There was a telephone.
When it was time to get into the car to go back home by way of the freeway I didn’t have a hat that I had painted myself with only three colors Nor feathers or a blue ribbon for starting fires We all said our good-byes Even the mean one called me by my name And we shot off like the explosive plumes of fireworks into a dimming sky.