Mommy was “in a hurry”
So, she told me not to stop.
I was watching a ladybug scurry
And I counted it’s four dots.
She pulled me down the street
In the bubbly falling rain.
As puddles rippled at my feet
I jumped again and again.
At the shop she got busy
Looking at this and that.
I found a lucky penny
As she tried on frilly hats.
Mommy said “let’s go”
When the drizzle was done.
She ignored the giant rainbow
And the cheerful sun.
Mommy didn’t have time
To look about with me.
She missed a million ants
Marching by the tree.
At last, I had enough.
“Down here” I cried.
“Look at all this stuff!”
And she stooped by my side.
She saw worms wiggling
On the mushy ground,
And we started giggling
As we looked around.
A fat, white cat
Chased a yellow bird.
It flew away just like that.
It really was absurd.
We saw squirrels climb trees,
As hasty crowds dashed by
Overlooking lively bees,
And me and Mommy sighed.
When you rush here and there
You miss so many things,
And you’ll never be aware
Of the wonders a day can bring.
Tucked in a residential area of Chinatown, the Airbnb was one of those units you could enter through a separate entrance in the back. The room’s walls were a pastel green, and a poster of Starry Night was tacked above the double bed. Since it was below ground, there were no windows, but the owners had invested in nice lighting that brightened and dimmed cozily. A tiny fridge, a wooden door leading to a small bathroom, and a low-to-the-ground sofa were the other main elements of the space. It smelled like lemon cleaning supplies and a touch of green onion.
“How does it look to you?” he asked.
In response, I bounced down on the bed, which emitted a soft wheezing noise. “It’s perfect,” I said, looking into his eyes and beaming.
He blushed slightly and set his things down on the sofa. He closed the door and sat behind me, gently putting a hand on my knee. “Should we go eat?”
On the walk there I held his arm against the early November cold, which is always worse because you aren’t expecting it yet. His phone rang, and he asked me if I minded him answering. I said no, and listened to his conversation with a parent setting up boxing lessons for their son. I cuddled his arm closer, happy that he was the type of man who got calls like that.
The Mongolian restaurant served steaming soups in deep metal bowls, divided with a partition in the center in the shape of yin and yang to separate spicy from mild broth. The waitress brought us heaping plates of green vegetables, gooey dumplings, and raw meats to cook in the broth. We excitedly placed each new thing into the broth and observed it wilt in its unique way. We experimented, watching each other with delight as we dipped and sipped and nibbled. The broth was hot, garlicky, slightly sweet, and full bodied, and it emitted a soft cloud of vapor that enveloped us warmly. In this cloud, we talked about his goals of designing clothing with thought-provoking messages, his career as a martial artist, and my aspirations in dance and school. We agreed that eating animals seemed wrong but that we were still doing it for now. Each time our eyes met, I felt the corners of my mouth being pulled upwards by some invisible and mischievous force.
“I feel like I’m high,” I said, giggling.
Smiling, he shrugged and put his arm reassuringly around my shoulders.
In bed, we watched Anthony Bourdain tramping through cacao forests on Netflix, while we intertwined our legs beneath the covers. Anthony Bourdain started to go into great detail about the differences in different shades of cacao plants, and we turned towards each other instead. He kissed me very gently and calmly, and the sensation I felt reminded me of drinking cool water on a hot day. He brushed my hair from my forehead and slowly kissed, moving from my lips to my neck to my chest to my ribs in delicate, winding circles. I imagined my favorite emoji of sparkling stars flickering all over my body. I sighed and felt my body melt into a less solid form.
The next day, we emerged from the Airbnb, squinting at the sun. We returned to the main plaza of Chinatown and found a place for breakfast. I got coffee with jelly cubes in it. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not, but I did like offering it to him and watching him place a cube on his tongue and make a pensive face.
We walked next door to the dry goods stores. I had come here as a child with my mother, who is perpetually intrigued by strange-smelling things in languages she doesn’t understand. I pointed out the shark fin on the top shelf and widened my eyes, and made him sniff the musty odor of the dried sea urchins. He took it all in, his eyes warm and intrigued.
We walked out into the plaza, and I noticed that the trees lining the walkway were all gingko trees. “My favorite tree!” I exclaimed.
He joined me at a tree’s base and we looked up. The translucently yellow, fan-shaped leaves rustled against each other against the deep crystal blue sky. For a moment the beauty of it was as harsh as the cold wind against my face. I took a sharp breath, and shifted my gaze to his open face gazing upwards, the dappled sunlight playing across his cheekbones.
That evening he dropped me off at home and we said goodbye. My mother noted my misty eyes and onion-lemon scent as I drifted towards my room. She smiled and said nothing.
As I walked to work the next morning, I noticed a yellow blanket of fan-shaped leaves beneath my feet. The gingko leaves had all fallen at once in the night.
Gus looked out through bloodshot eyes between the bars of his prison cell. The beckoning calls of the vibrant scarlet and golden magic of fluttering leaves, seen through his window beyond the barbed wire, reminded him that he would never see the outside world again unless it was a furtive glimpse in the distance. He felt severed from life as the bones of leaves portrayed the dust of autumn’s flesh. Already, the fading amber lights in ashy yellows signified autumn’s end. Soon, it would be winter again and he would pass one more year in his cold, dank cell. Snowdrifts sporting jaunty winter clothes would be beyond his reach. It would once again feel as if spiky icicles were stabbing his heart in frozen shadows of sprinkled regret He dreamed of inhaling the brisk air and feeling human once again.
Sluggishly in his numb stupor, Gus watched two muscular death row inmates dance around each other like sweat-soaked ballerinas. Hen-scratched tattoos marked their time spent swinging their mallet fists into each other’s faces, turning noses into bloody pudding and teeth into smoothies. Inmates clustered around, shouting out bets while guards ignored them.
Gus remembered being the victim of this cruelty many times when several inmates ganged up on him but there were other pointless savageries as well. Often guards messed with him for their own amusement. One of their favorite ploys was the old “fake visit from Mom” when they would tell him that he had a surprise visitor. Even though he realized it was probably untrue, he still felt like this was the bright spot of his whole month and fell for it every time. He would do his best to clean himself up and wait patiently at his cell doors for the guards to escort him to the visitor’s room. “Oh wait,” they laughed, “we got the wrong Johnson!” And they would laugh and laugh.
Gus sighed as he struggled to remember what normalcy had been in the past but it was becoming only a vague memory. He was ashamed as he realized that vulgarity and meanness was becoming a part of his personality because he felt he was becoming ice bound, trapped in glacial recesses of his body. Anger festered as he began to formulate a plan to kill one of the other prisoners who tormented him. Secreting a magazine in his cell, he pulled out its center staple and then removed the waistband from an old pair of underwear, making it into a catapult. Next, he removed threads from his underwear and wrapped them around the staple to make a dart. Removing one of the advertising cards from the magazine, he reinforced the dart and then dipped it into a noxious mixture of human feces and urine which he heated in the light from his window concentrating it to transform it into a dangerous poison. Then, he rolled up the magazine until it was about 2 inches in circumference and attached it to the bars of his cell. As the hated inmate walked by, he retracted the catapult, inserted the deadly dart and shot it into his neck. Although the prisoner yanked the dart from his neck and said nothing, sepsis took over in the next few days and the inmate died a lingering, painful death.
Hate in chills of cold sweat began to take over Gus’ persona as he felt himself becoming a different person. Knowing he would be in this prison for many years before his death penalty would become instituted; he began to devise other methods to kill both prisoners and the treacherous guards. There was nothing to lose!
Gus closed his eyes as he remembered why he was here. He had been the cherished only son of parents who had finally given up on him and never visited. He wistfully remembered making snowmen with his Dad as he watched flurries of snowflakes outside his window.
Depressing him the most was the knowledge that he was innocent, having been wrongly convicted. He cupped his agony (like fallen leaves) in his chapped hands, wiping drops of perspiration from his forehead, knowing he was ready to take control and destroy all those who had damaged him. The future was of his own making as he felt the wickedness of his transformation take hold like the changing of the seasons. He would shape a feared reputation, like frigid snowballs, that would never be forgotten. No longer would he be burdened by memories of his former life! Smiling in anticipation, he was ready to face his world as he wrapped the thoughts of a springtime of retribution around himself in hues of a new beginning.
She Doesn’t Just Twist, she Also Tangos
The night they met the two were smitten.
And so, in the stars it was written.
A dance to outlast the progression of time
a fox trot, box step, dip, divine.
Intimately they twirl and sway
To a tune only they hear play.
Lost in each other eyes she said
“I’m so glad I chose this tread”.
Sensually he caressed her face
“Fancy meeting you in this place”.
Each has a moment to take the lead
Fate and Free Will in harmony.
Fate was glad she decided to come and see
and Free Will believed it was meant to be.
“Aw she’s adorable!” Came the chorus. The aisle between the cubicles was crowded with admirers.
The mother, flushed with a healthy glow, looked at the baby cradled in her arms.
I smiled tensely, nodding along with the cooing. I looked at the baby. The baby’s watery blue eyes were pointed at the ceiling.
A tiny foot stuck out from the blanket, translucent skin revealing a web of intricate red veins just beneath the surface . The foot looked like it would be hot to the touch.
In fact the entire baby was flushed red with heat. It seemed to be steaming. Its mom fanned it with the edge of its blanket. “Why are you so warm, baby?” She asked.
Seemingly in response, the baby began to make a harsh wailing sound. Although its mouth opened and the skin on its face crinkled into folds, its eyes stayed open at the same width, vacantly fixed on the ceiling.
Its mother rocked it and made calming sounds but the wail continued.
The baby appeared to grow even redder and hotter. The cooing coworkers became nervous, unsure of the office ettiquette for handling this level of noise and redness. The only part of the baby that was not now red was just above its eyes, where a fleshy crest rose between its nonexistent eyebrows and its nonexistent hairline. The crest reminded me of something I’d seen on a picture of a dinosaur called an Edmontosauraus. I wondered what it was filled with–maybe cartilage? Or maybe it was just a lump of fat that got pushed into the wrong place as the baby was being squeezed out into the world.
“Do you want to hold her, Amina?”
“No,” I answered–realizing immediately that I had responded too quickly and firmly.
Ebony. Emptiness; no, the void itself. Color in nothingness, smoothly plaited back and pinned firmly up and away.
Sepia. Rich red-brown, warm in undertones. An unbroken expanse, save the pale pink of raised scars wound around wrists.
Eyes. A rich brown, but cooler, harder. Filled with the weight of struggle and torment, loss and constant grief.
Strong. Muscled and sturdy, but not burly. Not without delicate notes, and more balanced for them.
Loud. Brisk, not brash, busy and confident. Unapologetic for space occupied.
We were lying on the bed. It was dark. I looked up at the ceiling and it was covered in glow-in-the-dark stars. If I had known this, I don’t think I would have kissed him the way I did at the club. I was drinking, the music was pounding, the crowd was exciting and exotic. Voices chattering foreign languages ebbed and flowed with the thumping music.
It was my first time to a dance club in Europe. My date was Italian. He had been watching me, I had noticed. Whenever I got together with Marco, there he was, eying me intently. He obviously liked me. And I liked the way he would say, “Dai!” in that whiny way, when he laughed with his Italian friends. I figured out it means, “Come on!”, or “Stop!”, as in stop teasing. I didn’t know for sure, but I supposed.
He had a pouty lower lip, thick, dark, curly hair, and a tall, slim frame. He looked a bit like my father in the pictures I had seen of him as a young man. I noted this almost subconsciously.
When he buzzed my door, I didn’t hear at first. I had been blow-drying my hair, planning to stay in for the night. I was feeling a little like I might be coming down with something. It would turn out to be the flu, but I didn’t know that yet.
And now here I was, on his bed. In the dark, looking at fake stars. Waiting while he put the music, a drifting melancholy tune, a clarinet maybe? A flute? I wasn’t sure. But I was quite sure I about to be one of many in a long line of girls to bed this gentleman.
He put his arm around me and pulled me close to him, “If you could be any animal, what would you be?,” he asked.
“Ummm, a polar bear, maybe?”, I replied, having never pondered this idea before.
“No,” he said, “You would be a dolphin.”
“Fair enough,” I laughed.
“What animal would you be, then?,” I countered, snuggling up to him.
“I would be a donkey.” He stated, proudly.
“Ahhh. Confirmation,” I thought to myself.
I guess I better make sure I’m memorable, at least.
It’s Silly, Isn’t It
A scarf sitting in midair
As if wrapped cozily around someone's neck.
A little shirt rests under it,
Seemingly hugging a set of arms and torso.
Now you see the pants
Hanging idly onto an invisible pair of legs.
Don't forget the shoes,
Diligently tying the outfit together.
It's silly, isn't it?
Yet in the case of rape,
That's the primary question.
What were you wearing?
As if the victim truly is invisible, after all.
When you reach 65, I guess the depression question becomes routine during a standard medical checkup.
“Do you often feel down, depressed, hopeless or worthless?”
“Do you have thoughts of suicide?”
Alright thank you. The doctor will see you soon.
And then, of course, the doctor doesn’t bring it up again and I certainly don’t either, because I’m embarrassed to admit to being depressed and especially to contemplating suicide.
“So what can I do for you today?” he asks.
And I tell him I am concerned about my blood pressure and a bruise on my leg and acid reflux and plantar fasciitis and he doesn’t inquire about depression and I don’t bring it up… don’t ask don’t tell…and so on the way home I am thinking why do I bother to go to the doctor if I don’t tell him what’s wrong and then I realize he would just refer me to a counselor and I hate counselors so I will just endure the pain.
Depression catches me in a weak moment when I’m thinking of how much I miss my children and grandchildren, regrets from the past and not much hope for the future. It’s cold steely fist grabs a piece of my gut and I have to quickly find a place to cry and get over it. But a few times I have been caught, so I have to explain it’s clinical depression and yes I know how to deal with it and no I don’t need help. I know what to do. And of course that takes a great burden away from anyone thinking they might have to do something and it is real pathetic for an old man to cry. Who wants to see anyone cry or hear their sad stories? It is beyond pathetic and weak. So please just forget about it. It will go away. It always does.
I know it’s coming from inside my brain, but it feels like an outside surprise attack.
Of course, there is no one to talk to and if there were, I wouldn’t. Complaining is such a seriously pathetic stupid thing to do and it can really ruin a friendship. Not that I have a friend, but if I did…
But I’m better now and so please don’t bring it up any more. I am seriously better, no longer feeling sorry for myself. Let’s talk about sports.