Basketball Season

A basketball whooshes by my face so I shuffle my feet quick like I know what to do–but I miss the ball again. Whoosh, pass, rubber on asphalt, and I still haven’t touched the ball once. Big brother lands a slap on my shoulder but he slaps hands with all the older kids. Ball back in play, but the puttering of a car twists my neck around fast so big Derek stops dribbling to watch me and laughs. My left shoe grabs my eyes by the laces and the ball slams into my back. “Your brother’s a twerp,” Derek says, sending shivers through my bent elbows with an outstretched finger and they all laugh with curled hands over mouths. Now waves of mismatched jerseys bend up and down with the laughter and I think of running inside but I know they’ll call me a crybaby so I stick to one spot with my face wrenching itself from the inside. “Whatsamattah?” D-wreck jeers, and the tears just start wringing themselves from my twisted face and I don’t know where to hide or to be and when I look to my brother he stops for just a second then laughs and points like the rest while the bottoms of my shoes melt and glue me to the craggy asphalt of the one-hoop basketball court on Main.

Miami’s Washington

One oblong birthmark peeking through the folds of pink bikini bottoms (buried by one step, resurrected by the next) that’s all I can see of the girl in front of me. Procession, shuffling nowhere-forward together, nostrils trading scents methodically: smoke, urine, smoke, booze, bum, bum—Green light. Some separate, more space, girl’s birthmark comes into view, brown Long Island ponytail too. Backside burned, “Didja blackout?” friend asks as they melt into the 30 ponytails in line for that Kardashian boutique (birthmark giggles as we pass, and it’s coy). Booze, smoke, salt, burnt asphalt, another glass-eyed bum calls out but we can’t because Fendi Karan Jacobs Klein. Coolers roll. Hair coiffed by the salt and the breeze and the beers, three half-clothed mothers stumble into us from a tattoo shop but Lee Ann Drugs boasts hookahs and thongs on porn-star mannequins so we lose them again. Club Madonna at our right so the men pull out tongues to lick air between peace fingers and I try to keep my nose from turning up, keep the bulk of my brows from tensing down and in (but it’s not my city) and it’s funny how easy it is to see needles in the cracks of the sidewalks and the lipo-dents on orange roller-blading thighs when I squint (and I’m not wearing sunglasses)—so I do.

Peak

The shadows we rushed by always pulled us back around the kitchen table. Trailer park dances, jobless nights of Parcheesi and even the day Mom’s flannels were ripped by the anger. I still see the eye-daggers ripping them first, making his hands seem stronger than they were. “Hard times are hard times,” she said “but we sure are rich in dogs.” And she was right—Four dogs larger than our Sky-blue house on the mesa could hold.

Somehow she always knew that Jewels lived in the broken things.
Somehow, that overnight our hearts would grow like the Sandias through the dark, past the clouds and rest by this orange sun. The roots to their kisses reach to those broken shadows now. All the way down to the soil where tension-talks bred love-roots too thick to break.
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