July 10, 2010

of fire and freshness

“No amount of fire and freshness can challenge…”

One foot out of the shower
I remembered, perfectly
as if watching the scene.
The stage—what used to be,
the other half of my bathroom.
The oddly colored checked tiles
were now an endless maple;
the wood floor shined and smoothed glossy.
The ceiling rose to a faraway height
and the light dimmed to a yellowy darkness
broken by the convulsions of strobe lights.
Where the sink was, now stood
a towering speaker box
on an anorexic tripod.
And I, wet and naked
one foot in the shower
dripping scented water
all over the slippery dining hall dance floor.

You were so close to me
swaying in front of the shaky speaker
an inch, maybe closer.
But I could barely see your face
in the fractured dimness,
in my cracked memory.
I hid under my cupped hands,
but you didn’t notice me.
You were looking into my eyes,
younger, more aware.
The eyes I used to have
that saw you—they had the right to.

I was so close to you,
swaying with you in an ordinary suit
and a tie that matched, on purpose,
your turquoise dress.
Or was it teal?  aquamarine?
This was the only time
you curled your hair that way…
Brown curls, brown and light brown;
curly streaks tickling
your creamy cheeks.
The freckles, so light, almost imaginary.
Phantom freckles haunting your fair face.
Your fair face, your just face.
either side of the summit of your nose.
And what I found in your sleepy eyes:
I saw the moon, whole and glassy,
low in the still bluish sky through my windshield.
The sun, a burning match-head
sinking into the parkway in my rearview mirror.

I saw the crowd of our classmates,
violently bobbing blades
of angst-grass thick and static.
They were making too much noise
in my small bathroom.
They made a ring around us, a solid fog,
trapping us in a cramped Mexican standoff.
The Girl, The Boy, and The Wet & Naked Man.

It played on as I remembered.
You tripped backwards
on one of the tripod’s errant legs.
Your knees buckled, your back straightened,
you kept good posture even when falling.
Your head tossed back,
your eyes confronted the ceiling,
your arms waded in the helpless air.

Naked me, no less dry,
watched you falling and didn’t move.
I did what I always did in this memory,
since the first time when it was event.
I caught you.
Quickly you lied down on my forearm,
looking up at me, my lips curled into a smirk.
Swift, so aware, invincible.
Your faithful mongoose.
Your date to The First Hurrah.

We danced on.
Away from the speakers,
away into the fog, into the cloud of our classmates.
Away from me—ever more naked,
no less dry,
But now very cold.

“…what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”- F. Scott Fitzgerald



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