I. One Pinewood Road
oh! i am three and one fourth years old, unsullied by human kindnesses!
i learn to quiet my bones and rattle around in the back seat of our mini van. it smells like coffee stains and mom and dad.
the kind of bitterness that wraps around my chest like a blanket does not warm my lungs yet. i am a blossom, i unfold, too young to know the burnt air i gasp in does not soothe the throat.
II. Eleven Charter Road
it is the first day of kindergarten. i am scared confused frustrated five and one half years old, bouncing around in the back seats of the bus before i learn that i’m not allowed back there.
Lily Margaret Friedman and i sit together and hold hands, make a pact that we’ll be best friends. we stop talking in the fourth grade. i tell myself not to think about it.
don’t think about it sitting in a classroom twisting a lock of your hair
don’t think about it going on a run down the street, cold burning your nose
don’t think about it late at night trying to bring warmth into your feet again
don’t think about it
III. Two Hundred Ninety Nine Main Street Plaza
seventh grade tastes a little bit like disappointment. they always told us that we’d be the big kids the mature kids but i see the high schoolers drive by in their beat up cars when we’re walking to Dunkin and suddenly we’re six years old again
one day Katie Anne Briskie who is my neighbor and much too cool to talk to me picks me up and i sit in her back seat. we drive around and she tells me about her college apps and how she doesn’t want to settle for some boy some state school and an ordinary office job. the SAT is years away and i don’t know what it feels like to have your future run through a roulette machine so i sit in silence.
it is hard to learn to hold the world; my hands sieve my mistakes
IV. One Sixteenth and Columbia
he is named after a river, We sit on the pier and talk about how it is so fantastically fascinating that we are all made up of various configurations of atoms. Both of us, We know it won’t last.
seven and one half months later, i am back again and the city makes my jaw clench a little bit tighter. i am headed uptown in a taxicab, and suddenly the programming on the little flickering television screen is the most fantastically fascinating thing i can imagine.
farther along there is a traffic jam and i think of him in between avenues
how we let each other leave
how he wore his shirtsleeves and jeans cuffed
how he was not my first great love, how he was my first great loss
V. One Hundred and Eighty Main Street
oh! i am sixteen and three quarters years old, the sky is grey and muddy and the air tastes like electricity all of a sudden.
the window on my side of the mini van is cracked the slightest bit open so i can feel the raindrops catch in my hair: i am coming i am coming i am coming and and i am also going
the exit on the four ninety five tells me Andover is just Two Whole Miles away, and it feels as if holy hell is breaking out in my head.
lightning wrapped up in my left pocket, cell phone in my right, and i realize that finally i am the big kid Katie told me about –
and all i want is a plastic shock blanket
VI. For Reference
when you are sixty years old you do not know what it feels like to have green run through your veins and burn behind your temples
you are now, you are here, you are bending towards the sunlight like a field of sunflowers