Your Small Towns of Adult Sorrow & Melancholy
Because when my friend calls from Montana he’s walking the aisles of a 24-hour Walmart. Because when I ask him to tell me about the big sky I realize he’s standing in front of the same thing he could see here, could see anywhere.
Because nearly everyone I know wants a pet or a baby, or has recently lost a pet or a baby, & wants again. If I want anything at all it’s an uninterrupted night’s sleep, but I’m not even sure about that.
Because in bed, my son, curled small beside me, turned toward me, said, You’re most beautiful in the night-light dark. Then he brushed his hand along my jaw. Someday he'll be someone’s lover.
Because grown-ups dressing in costume always seem like sadder versions of the selves they could’ve been.
Because when my son wants to hurt me, he says, You always forget everything. Because he knows it isn’t true; my memory dangerously intact, every texture a detail called back.
Because there’s a woman who’ll tell me the window’s spindles are architectural. She’s not a liar, just wrong. I’ll say, They’re to keep us from jumping. I’ll say, I unscrewed the hardware. Because I wouldn’t have said, I tore the spindles off after I stripped the screws, though it would be true. But if I did, would she have said, But the cement below? Would I say, And?
Because the last living elevator operator will probably retire to a bedroom community of ranch homes in the tornado-plains. He’ll open the door for no one, never call out another floor.
Because, hesitant, I bring home the remains of the praying mantis wrapped in paper for my son, a gift from someone who knew I’d given him a microscope. After he carefully peeled off the tape, he backed away. Because gulping words he managed to say, I didn’t know it would be dead.
Because it’s August & already I’m wearing my winter hands.
Because people in grocery stores a week before payday, their shoulders a parking lot of fear.
Because about South Dakota, my friend said, Everything looked so thirsty. Eyeing the sporting goods near the guns & bullets, the lures & bait, he said, There should be an ocean there.
Because when my son holds his warm hand against my cold one, his fingertips nearly reach around mine. Because when I tell him sometimes I miss him being small, he says, Someday there’ll be a machine to take us back there.