Where will the wild places go when we tame them all? Will they hide inside of us? A Grand Canyon in my stomach. A Yosemite behind your eyes. You try so hard to figure everything out, all the while it’s changing on you. It’s like racing a car on a one-lane road that’s traveling the other direction. Eventually we’ll meet again, but only to crash.
The party was letting out and we were still making eyes. I tried to manage a smile as she ducked into a waiting Uber car. I tried to act like a man with something to offer, yet, when I searched the bottom of my glass, I only found a Trademark sign.
I iron my shirt. I pay my phone bill. I lift 25 pound weights. I use eye cream. I cheer for the home team. I call my mom on Mother’s Day. I walk into the forest and lose myself in the trees. I recite poetry in my head when the sun burns through the clouds. I am a living, breathing sparrow king.
Two suits were hanging in my closet. One navy. One black. One for weddings. One for funerals. I was naked except for a spray of $200 Italian cologne. I stood a long time, trying to decide which one to put on. My skin was white as the walls. Eventually I chose the one that matched your eyes.
Everybody knows what a mushroom cloud looks like, but not everybody knows what debilitating doubt looks like. Except for me. It’s a street sign. It’s an apple core on the sidewalk. It’s a lavender plant leaning over the steps. It’s the doorbell. It’s the slow creak of the door. It’s those eyes, flashing at me with pity.
The bully walked up, chest pumped up like wheels on a tractor. He snatched my football and pushed me face first into the mud. A lion momentarily roared in my gut. I stood up. I shouted, “You can’t do that to me.” He laughed. He handed me back my football. I looked at it in disbelief, staring like a dumb child. I never even saw his fist, although he landed it square in my eye.
We jumped off a bridge into a cold river. The snowmelt coming from Wyoming. The wind was pushing the trees around. When I came up there was something in my eyes. Everything was blurry. I looked at the mountains and they looked like charred bodies lying on their side. You were shouting my name. It was so pretty I almost let myself drift downstream.
photo by Julie Trotti