4107 by beth lindly
i have been born into a southern city twice,
once to parents that counted and once to those that didn’t.
twenty-one years and i haven’t ever sat all the way
through a game of football, or soccer, or anything
except gymnastics. southern life is the same as
gymnastics – you don’t have to know the rules to
know when someone messes up, when someone falls,
when someone scrapes the length of their fingers trying
to pull themselves up. there is a spillway by the house where i
grew up that wasn’t full this morning. when my father
drove us to school in the fall, through those blurry mornings,
i could see a small rhombus of sun shining on lake tuscaloosa but
it was only in the fall and only in those mornings. i am proud
to have noticed that rhombus. we lived in a different house
until i was five years old. i had a sesame street comforter
and we didn’t have cable. all they ever taught me was the
cockroach on the wall does not exist if you can’t see it.
(or, at least, i haven’t seen that cockroach since then. who’s
the death of fairies is something that has once made me sad.
i thought there were some behind my elementary school’s quarry
but they were just honeysuckle, and it was november when i went
back, anyway. there were never any fairies around my house.
i checked in the herb garden my mother grew in our front
yard, with all the mint and oregano that went into the soups she made.
my ex told me to stop calling it “my house” because the room
that saw me stay up past 2 a.m. to talk to him now sees my
sister write on the walls. but someone else wakes me up now and
my home can become whatever i need it to be.
i had a dream last week about my dog dying and i remembered
it over lunch with my parents with such a horrid suddenness that
i thought it had happened right then. “no, beth,” my father chuckled.
“millie hasn’t died.” “she’s doing just fine,” my mother agreed.
but she has, i thought, i saw it clear as anything.
my dog’s brain has been recently deteriorating, the pieces
taking with them her ability to hear. our family has taken to stomping
on the ground so she can feel the vibrations of come get your food,
come outside, just come here. i am proud that she can feel the vibrations
that call her home.
the fog that exists separating me from my dirt and blood has yet
to be predicted by james spann – a 70 percent chance that when i’m seventy
i won’t be able to remember how my backyard looked without the deck.
i am twenty-one and soon i won’t be and it will continue like that until
my memories have cateracted into a milky blur of greens and purples
when i was a child and maroons and blues when i thought i was an adult.
my hope is that i will start an herb garden and plunge my hands
in the warm earth and feel the vibrations that might call me home,
if they want to.