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Oct 2018
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.
Susan Adele Wiggins
Written by
Susan Adele Wiggins  F/Los Angeles
(F/Los Angeles)   
2.9k
 
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