On a whim,
On a branch,
On a hope,
On a past.
Broken sticks for bones, they come draped in tattered sheets; these are wings attached to me. I am this sad bird, no tears show a melancholy. I cannot fly, I never have- never will. I look up as if I have aspirations, few. I look down more often, thinking, had they done this before? Am I setting precedent? How hard will I crash on impact? The sun is proving limelight this event. This tree is tall, apathetic, and old. How bold am I?
The joy of being young, a boy, naïve, astute, and poised, is obsolete now. Feelings die too. Factions and attraction fill this fleshy head. I have no need for money, labels, or plans. Instead I relish now; no past-tense, or future, somehow. Standing on this feeble limb looking down- it bends.
Failing industrious mentality, the gears inside my skull give out black smoke as they grind to a halt, working too hard on thought too deep. Hear the sharp metal sound of grinding components which accompany this orchestra of confusion, breaking off one piece at a time… in my mind.
Dirt below, dark, rank; gathered dead leaves, fodder, debris. My father used to hunt this forest in the morning, both sides of the valley, at that time the fog had not lifted yet- seasons we remember. 12 gauge relevant ascending the hillside. He would live three days in one. His energy, whether good or bad, would never tire; thinking on that now I feel lazy, I see others and I think how lazy. What a waste of time they have become- I shouldn’t be so judgmental. This, and these words, may be a waste of time. Making time for it, I find.
We were young, waiting at the bus, me and my sister. The yellow mass box would lurch and pull and move towards us with a howl, post-fall wearing chains on its tires, proper traction. I feared this vehicle as much as I needed the shelter it gave, especially in subzero winter months.
A venue for bullies ubiquitous, having imagination made you queer, and a target, being big-boned made you fat, and different, also a target. Reading slow made you dumb; you sat with the “special needs kids” at the “special needs table”. Fists bruised your flesh, laughing and calling they gathered, but only to watch your demise. Obscurity took away helping hands and orphaned you institutionally.
Cold, we stood at the end of the driveway, though, having to trek there first. It was Sleepy Hollow walking to its end; under massive cottonwood trees with outlined grotesque hands and fingers, grabbing at nothing, carelessly free. Looking up one could see the eerie morning moon still chasing after the night, that close- yet still seen.
I thought it counted for dark, especially closer to winter, just before the snow had fallen. Daylight savings changed the playing field by shades of gray, a feeling uneasy, entirely.
It was deer season opener. My dad had taken Pastor Mark into the woods to hunt deer, on our land- God’s land. I knew he was watching somewhere in the distant thick foliage. He was out there, but then again I thought of how far away he must be. I thought he couldn’t see us.
Then I heard the bus coming, the bird said my name, “terry”. Bush Valley surrounded and shaded the rising light. A fresh cut woodpile held to the ground near a ditch, tan and pale, grandpa had just tended it; as evidence sawdust lie matted gathering dirt color more as the days grew short. The other side of the road a creek ran. This was our drinking water. We’d catch frogs frequently, here and there. Little bugs swam in it, translucent.
All was green and covered in frost; fall was upon us. We saw the lights coming, the stop sign swung out. Standing, waiting, backing up, noticing; Ma had a flower wheel at the end of the driveway near our mail box- it was white at a time, dinged and peeled now, warm nostalgia. A comforting feeling spread out on the cut grass.
Things were all right then. The bus came down, stopping with a screech. We always looked both ways, checking the street for our safety before crossing. We pulled ourselves on, and then we were off.
Our neighbor’s dog was out, always, it was white and black, some sort of collie. It would run along the bus just to the edge of the property near the pond. The dog would stop and watch for a moment and then turn around, tail wagging, and saunter back. You could see this out the emergency door of the bus as it went down the road holding the pavement.
The birds kept calling my name. I was ready to fly, but I had no practice or patience. I bounded on the branch to get some lift. One, two, three… And that was it. I fell right into my plastic-for-leather bus seat and sat.