by Fyn -
I wrote about you. You are indelible! A mosaic of the forgotten. 4-5 HS 2
|Staying Put. One Way or Another.
Iridescent water with tie-dye swirls
runs along the gutter, a rainbow
of dreams slipping through the grate.
She doesn't notice;
dreams are just bull anyway;
do I have a spare smoke?
She sits on the curb,
bare feet in the oil-slicked water.
It's running high after the rain shower
a few moments ago. It's just
rain, she says; witches only melt
in fairy tales.
Borrows my lighter then slips it
into a torn pocket of her threadbare jeans.
Doesn't matter, I have another. Her eyes,
silvered-blue, are clear and shining, despite
having seen, I am sure, far
too much, too often.
I'm Serafina, at least today, I am, she offers
tugging a long grey and red-streaked braid,
fiddling with the end, tied with a bit of string.
Her toenails wink pink and blue in the water:
they are long talons. Grasping each day.
Clawing her way from there to here.
She is, perhaps in her sixties. Hard to tell,
and she isn't sharing beyond,
with a half-smile, being of a certain age.
I'm old enough to choose my life, to choose
to live as I do. That, my dear, is freedom.
Comes with a price: all living does.
Can she bum another? Terrible habit,
she says, lighting it, inhaling with relish though
the last butt just tiny-shipped to swirl in an eddy
then slip down the sewer where
dreams go to die. Ashtray of the world.
Ashes to ashes; the cockroaches feast.
Do you know the time? Not that it matters,
after all, I've got nowhere to be. Isn't that
nice? This with a dazzle smile empty of teeth.
Even still, said with a bite. How come you don't smoke
Marlboros or Kools? This is like sucking air.
I feel like an apology is in order, even though it isn't.
She stands, hiking up too loose jeans. Hefts
macrame-d bag to bony shoulder, her eyes questioning.
I hand her the rest of the pack, step out of the water,
up to the curb. You got an open face, she says.
Your eyes speak volumes. I like me a good book.
She laughs as she walks away without a backward glance.
Next time I see her, the braid is gone. Hacked off, she said,
in her sleep.You're the book lady, ain't ya? I tell her my name.
She's Violet today. I offer a smoke before she can ask. Pockets
my lighter again. She points to a graffiti-painted brick wall. All a jumble,
makes no sense, she mutters, but then nothing much does,
anymore. Do you know where the rainbows went?
I shrug, say I haven't seen any in a while. Got to know where
to look, she cackles. Only I forgot where I put 'em.
She wanders off, ducks into an alleyway. Pokes her head back out.
You need to be writing them stories down. You never know
when they will slide away. I slid away once. I'm on
no one's page anymore. You write me so as I stay put.
Looked for her on and off for a few months. Heard
she was back to being Serafina after Francesca, Lily and
Madeline. Someone said they thought she might have moved on.
It never dawned on me that that might have been
a euphemism for something else. Rude awakening.
The rainbow drowned; washing away down the sewer.