Walking with two cents in my pocket and scared to go back, scared of school, the glitter of spring popping up inside me and out, green buds nosing their way out of dull brown earth and among the trees.
Losing my way along the tracks, the rusted steel and rotting wood, the pebbles and stink of oil, the chopped down trees and red brick, and the smoke-stained backs of crumbling buildings
The dread I felt, not from that one football player that always wanted to beat in my face because I mocked him, but all those faceless people who wandered around the school and halls, unaware that their faces had been taken.
Sitting on the great lawn in front of
my hands and pants cold, the feel of the yellow grass like tongues on my
fingers, the senses that this was the first step towards a great journey West. Lambert Castle
California, dreams of palm trees,
warm days, Disneyland, and the ocean, pictures of each
floating around in my head, and losing them as I rose. There is something sad
about having memories of things you never had.
Crossing over that molehill of a mountain as if it was the Rockies, my good shoes stained with mud, my new pants torn on the gravel and thorns, my shirt open trying to let in the sun.
Climbing down, seeing the name
West Paterson on the signs, being
amazed that I had already gotten so far, Dylan had only made it to East
The streets that tumbled down like asphalt falls, finding the edge of the twisting, crawling, snake-skin
at the bottom: a foreign part of a familiar waterway, I had never seen.
Wandering the streets with factories on it, later called
Avenue, the war materials were made here, I
thought, seeing the name Keirfoot.
The police car slowing, and the face of the cop glaring at me, and my lying, telling him that I only had a half day at school that day, and he saying, “But it’s still the morning,” and how I tried to convince him that I had the first half off not the second half, and then lied again by giving him my best friend’s name as mine. Somehow, I still don’t know how, he knew that me was me and called my uncle.
The shame. The silence. The defeat of being driving back over ground I had fought so hard to gain, each mile fading into a memory of pain, and my uncle’s enraged face at the end, waiting for me with a leather belt he vowed to use, lying to me when he said “This is going to hurt me a lot more than it will hurt you.”